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"Report by British Prisoners" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A short intelligence article with information from British prisoners who had recently escaped from the Japanese, from the Intelligence Bulletin, December 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on foreign tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]


The information in this section was obtained by 3 officers and 20 enlisted men of the British Army who escaped from the Japanese after having been held prisoners for 36 hours. They were part of a group of 80 captured when the Japs posed as Chinese troops and gave a friendly signal.

From this incident, it is clear that the Japanese in the future will try to take advantage of the difficulties experienced by United Nations forces in identifying troops as Chinese or Japanese. The Japs undoubtedly had learned—probably from Fifth Columnists—the signal used by the British and Chinese for means of identification.

The Japanese who deceived and captured the British group did not wear the five-pointed yellow star (denoting Jap army) on their caps. Their uniforms and physical features also resembled those of the Chinese. As pointed out in Intelligence Bulletin No. 2, a large percentage of Japanese soldiers have physical features similar to the North Chinese soldiers; therefore, extreme caution should be exercised in making identifications.

At first the Japanese were very friendly to the British, and passed around cigarettes. Some of the Japs spoke good English. Shortly afterward, however, each of the British soldiers suddenly was seized from behind and relieved of his weapons. After the capture, 4 officers and 70 enlisted men were photographed by a movie camera, the operator of which was well trained and had plenty of modern equipment.

Some of the prisoners were fed concentrated food. The quantity was about two-thirds the size of a penny match box. The food was sweet and very nourishing.

One British officer noticed that the oil on a Japanese rifle appeared to collect neither dust nor sand.

Some of the prisoners reported that the Japanese were using a type of fire bomb which resembled small smoke candles about the size of a 1-pound jam jar. On striking a substance, the bomb would stick to the surface and then explode immediately. It would burn intensely with a blue flame and give off a little smoke for about 2 minutes. If the bomb stuck to an inflammable object, the area around the spot where it stuck would burn fiercely after the flame had died down. The bomb has no fuse to be lighted before it is thrown—by hand. The weapon proved very useful in driving troops from wooden houses.

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