NOTES ON RECENT FIGHTING IN THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC
Issues No. 3 and 4 of the Intelligence Bulletin contained
considerable information dealing with tactics and matériel used
by the Japs in the Solomon Islands fighting. Additional information
on the action in the Solomons, as well as in other Southwest Pacific
areas, is presented in this issue.
2. INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS
Members of a Marine battalion in the Solomons agree that at
night Japanese often can be detected by a characteristic
odor, which resembles the gamy odor of animals. One Marine, through
his sense of smell, detected a Jap walking along a road with him--the
Jap was killed.
It is interesting to note that the Japanese are able to detect us
by smell. A Jap scientist has described the odor of a white person
as being pungent, rancid, sweetish, or bitter to his race.
3. NOISES DURING NIGHT ATTACKS
The Japs are very well trained to move silently in
jungle areas. They deliberately make noises at times,
however, to distract our attention and to deceive us, or to
draw our fire--especially that of automatic weapons.
These noises are made by firing rifles, mortars, and firecrackers,
by beating on bamboo sticks, and by loud talking
and yelling. Frequently, Japanese attacking units sneak
up ahead of the noise makers and are ready to throw hand
grenades and fire at our positions if our troops open fire at
the noises. On other occasions, the Japs infiltrate small
patrols to attack our forces from the rear while the noises
are being made.
4. BIVOUAC DEFENSE
When the Japs bivouac in the jungle, they prepare an
all-round defense. One bivouac position, captured by a
Marine battalion in the Solomons, was occupied by a
reinforced rifle company. Foxholes were of the standing
type and tunneled in, with well camouflaged overhead
protection. Some of the holes were connected by ropes,
probably to guide soldiers at night. The area was roughly
circular, and presented no flanks and no weak spots.
Snipers were placed about in trees to protect automatic
weapons. Low and narrow fire lanes, extending 1 to 2 feet
above the ground, had been cut in all directions. The
lanes were hard to see unless troops were crawling. Only
the low brush was cut, and the lanes appeared like tunnels
in the jungle. Weapons fired low through them hit
several of our men in the lower legs and ankles.
The Japs have tried numerous tricks to sneak up to
within knife- or grenade-range of our forces at
night, or to lure them into the range of these
weapons. Although many of the Japs speak good
English, their accent almost always gives them
away to a careful listener. They try
hard to learn our passwords, and sometimes they cut in on
our radio or telephone lines to get information.
After certain night operations in the Solomons, our
troops found dead Japs wearing our helmets.
Also, a Jap was found dead with a light machine gun
strapped to his back in such a manner that it could be
fired. It is believed that guns of this type were moved
from place to place in this way, with one man carrying the
gun and the other firing it. The Japs also have been observed
while running from tree to tree, firing one or two
shots from each position. This creates the illusion of
large numbers of troops.
During the Milne Bay operations, the Japanese employed
at least two light tanks which were heavily armed
with automatic weapons. The tanks had strong lights
which threw powerful rays 200 yards. The lights were
controlled in such a manner that it was practically impossible
to shatter them by point-blank fire. The tanks
were heavily greased, and sticky grenades would not cling
to them. They were finally immobilized by breaking the tracks.
Cans of luminous paint were found in the Solomons. Apparently
the Japs had planned to use the paint to assist
movements at night.
The following conclusions, drawn by officers and men of
a Marine battalion, are based on their fighting experience
against the Japs in the Solomons:
a. Because the helmet silhouette is an easy way to
detect friend from foe at night, it should be borne in mind
that the Jap will use our helmets if he can get away with
it, and positive identification cannot be based on that
b. Telephone lines should be carefully concealed, and
never laid on trails--because the Japs cut or tap them
and use them as guides to our command posts.
c. Remember that darkness is just as good cover for us
as for the Japs.
d. Jap noises are harmless. Wait until "pay-dirt" targets
present themselves at night before opening fire.
e. Our men should always dig in, and our automatic
weapons should have protection against grenades.
f. During daylight hours strong patrols should be sent
out to interfere with enemy reconnaissance (on which they
base their attacks) and to interfere with their rest.
g. Each man should be equipped with at least 4 hand grenades.
h. Location of friendly troops should be known to all our units or detachments.
i. Snipers strategically placed in trees are very effective in daytime--give
the Japs some of their own medicine.
j. All guard and sentry details must be posted in pairs--while one
man is challenging, the other must cover his partner from the flank, ready
to handle any emergency.
k. Challenging at night must be done skillfully. The challenger must
remain unseen in the shadows of a tree or building, and not permit
the challenged person to come within knife-range of him until
his identity has been definitely established as okay. The password
should not be used unless necessary to secure positive identification. If
used, the password should be spoken in a stage whisper.
l. Commanders should be mentioned by nicknames. Mention an
officer or noncom by rank and that individual has a fine
chance of being showered with grenades.
m. Troops should be well instructed in Jap tactics, but they also
should be impressed with the fact that American fighting
men can, and have, outfought this wily enemy.
n. The jungle puts a premium on individual and squad action.
o. Strict compliance with all basic rules of hygiene and
sanitation is all-important. The individual must learn
to conserve drinking water. All local water must be
considered contaminated, and must be treated before