As it is possible that our forces may have to combat these special landing
forces, some account of their size and composition is of interest.
When the present war began, it was the aim of the Japanese Navy to gain
for Japan a line of island outposts stretching from Wake, through the Marshalls
and Gilberts, the Ellice Islands, the Fijis, the New Hebrides, and the Solomons
to New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese Army, on the other hand,
was more interested in the conquest of the Philippines, the rich Dutch East Indies,
and the mainland of Asia.
Consequently, as the Army took up the job of boosting Japan out of the
"have not" class of nations, the Navy undertook to establish a strong outer bulwark
of island bases. The Navy achieved this, almost unaided by the army, with, it is
believed, only eight Navy special landing forces, totalling some 12,000 troops.
However, the conquests of the individual islands were carried out by
forces of very small size. Wake was reduced by one special landing force, though
another was evidently included in the attacking force, but was not landed. The
Gilberts were occupied by one more. Rabaul was taken by a task force of one army
infantry regiment, reinforced, and one special landing force. The Bismarcks and
Solomons were overrun by that special landing force. Eastern New Guinea was
occupied by an army battalion and another landing force. Ambon was occupied by
one army regiment and one special landing force.
The landing forces that carried out these operations were mobile units,
though heavily armed. Normally they numbered 1,200 - 1,500 men each and
consisted of two rifle companies (each having a heavy machine gun platoon) and one
or two companies of heavy weapons (antitank guns, mountain guns, sometimes
antiaircraft guns, and even tanks). A small number of special troops: engineer, medical
communications, etc. was also included in the organization. Organization charts
of forces of this type, the Kure 3rd and Maizuru 2nd, were included in ICPOA
(Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area), Japanese Land Force Bulletins Nos. 1 and 5.
Now things are different. These special landing forces are occupying a
great number of the Japanese outlying bases, as the Army has been reluctant
to take over the defense of these outposts. Our pressure is continually increasing.
These forces now can no longer act as striking forces, they must defend. The
Japanese Navy realizes this, and is changing the organization of their special
landing forces accordingly.
The following organization charts are those of the Yokosuka Seventh Special
Landing Force which was part of the New Georgia defense force. A comparison
of its organization with that of Kure Third is most revealing. The Yokosuka
Seventh is an immobile, heavily armed defense force. Its guns are mainly naval
broadside guns, pedestal-mounted for emplacing in fixed positions.
As first organized, the Yokosuka Seventh was as shown in Chart A, with
an insufficiency of infantry troops and infantry weapons. To rectify this, a
reinforcement unit was attached to it to build up its infantry strength, and the
Force's composition, as reorganized, is shown in Chart B. This new arrangement
had an added organization for the 2nd Rifle Co. (part of the reinforcing unit), as
it appears to comprise only two platoons--the first, a rifle platoon of 3 officers
and 147 enlisted men, the second, a 59-man machine gun platoon.
One other special landing force, the Kure 6th, has been definitely indicated
as being similarly organized. The other landing forces that have been in the
theater of operations entered the fighting with an organization similar to
the Kure 3d, but as they settled down to the defense of their positions, the gun strengths
on their islands were built up and it is most probable that their organization has
swung gradually towards that of the Yokosuka Seventh.
The "service units" of the landing force consisting of the Signal,
Construction, Medical, Supply and Ordnance Equipment Units shown in
charts A and B would, under the Japanese army organization be part of, or attached to, the
Headquarters Company. How the organization is set up in a naval command is