The following notes are quoted from an Australian publication, and concern Japanese tactics
as designed to give their opponents the "jitters--the 'we are cut off' feeling."
* * *
When the operations of the present war are examined closely, especially those in Malaya, it is
realized that defeats and retreats are brought about principally by the new weapon--"Noise." The
more eerie the noise, the more effective--anything that can give troops the "jitters."
Noise is used to upset the morale. It aims at disrupting the psychological balance of the soldier and
sometimes affects whole units.
Aerial bombing causes few casualties, especially when troops are in shelters or slit trenches, but
the effect on the troops is very great--much greater than artillery bombardment where the casualties
are much heavier. In Malaya, troops which stood up well to artillery and mortar fire became extremely
uneasy under aerial bombing. This was due mainly to the great smashing noise caused by the
explosion of bombs. Usually the Japanese "blanketed" an area by dropping bombs from 20 or 30 or
even more aircraft simultaneously. The noise was terrific and the effect on the troops in the area
was very great psychologically, though not serious physically.
This psychological effect cannot be ignored. Many military leaders--usually those who have not
experienced heavy aerial bombing--cannot understand why troops should be so seriously affected
when the physical casualties are so light. The fact is that they are affected.
One noise-making device used on many occasions in Malaya by the Japanese was to fire bursts from a
machine gun (or even two or three) behind the line all night long. This soon created in the receptive
minds of the troops the "we are cut off" idea. Sometimes a few snipers who had infiltrated behind
the lines fired shots throughout the night for the same purpose. They fired into space--no casualties
from this firing were experienced, but the "casualties" on the morale side were heavy. Weak troops
began to worry, and "look over their shoulders." They became unreliable, and when pressed from the
front and flanks they were inclined to surrender, or more frequently to "escape." They usually
escaped easily enough without loss through this phantom force behind them. The enemy, expecting
this, was quick to take advantage of it, and thus another retreat was started. Usually it took
days to collect these drifters or stragglers, and when they were collected and sent forward again
they were less reliable than ever.
In Malaya and also in the Philippines, the Japanese used a time bomb fired behind our lines by a
mortar or gun. On striking the ground, the bomb burst open and set off a fuze which fired intermittent
explosives which sounded like a machine gun. This was called by our troops "a packet of crackers." This
sounds childish, but it had a definite effect on many troops, especially those whose morale was
below the average.
The Germans have an attachment to aerial bombs and shells, a device which makes a screaming
noise as they fall through the air.
Any noise that may upset the nerves of their enemy has been adopted by both the Japanese and the
Our men must be taught to steel their nerves against uncanny and eerie noises. During their
training, especially night training, all kinds of weird noises should be used to accustom them
to this new weapon. They must be taught that noises hurt no one. They must learn to laugh at them.
At the same time, we should copy this successful trick from our enemy. The Japanese are very
susceptible to howling noises. When the Australians charged them with the bayonet, they went
in with a terrifying yell. The Japanese could not stand it--they ran away screaming time after
time. The yell terrified them as much as the sight of the cold steel.
We must invent and use every ingenious device that can terrify frightened men. Siren whistles
should be used, of course with discretion. Even a soft tapping of wood or metal constantly all
night long near their lines will worry them. Animal noises, even eerie lights, will have an
effect. The ingenuity of cunning soldiers will soon devise sound effects that will upset the
nerves of our enemy. They must be used with caution, otherwise they will become ridiculous--thus
eliminating noise as a weapon.