To some extent there may be an element of repetition in the report which
follows, but even granting that such is the case, this will serve to highlight the
lessons derived from actual experience.
"We must know our foes and know them well," writes the American
compiler of the following notes, which indicate some of the basic tactics used by the
Japanese in the Malayan Campaign.
"On the tactical side the campaign was an excellent example of 'jungle warfare' and
of the use of waterways as arteries of communication and movement. Throughout
the campaign there was none, or practically none, of the fanatic frontal
charges which characterized Jap tactics in North China. In Malaya it was a
case of constant infiltration and constant small-scale envelopment.
"Many of the envelopments were over water and involved landing behind
the Allied front. In these 'water-land' operations the experience gained along the
Yangtze River and elsewhere in China no doubt was of real value, but most of the
Malayan landings had a character uniquely their own. In China the landings
habitually were made under the guns of the Navy. The same was true of the basic
landing at Kota Bahru, where half-a-dozen Jap troop transports stood off-shore
while the troops reached the beaches in various types of special landing crafts.
"But most of the tactical landings involved in the envelopments under discussion
occurred on the western coast where, of course, there was no Jap naval
support. These landings generally were small in size--perhaps a company or two, or
at the most a battalion. The Japs made great use of what they found locally in
the way of floating craft, and in view of the size of the Malayan fishing fleet what
they found was considerable. In addition, there is evidence that a few special
landing craft, motorized and with a capacity for as many as 100 men each, were
transported overland from Singora for use along the western coast.
"A characteristic of the Japanese landings was the evident use of alternative
objectives. There are several instances in which a convoy, encountering
resistance at one point on the coast, moved up or down coast to another more
favorable point. Thus was the principle of infiltration applied to tactical landings.
"Infiltration or jungle warfare are the words generally applied to the actual
fighting off the roads as it occurred throughout Malaya. The basic Jap tactic
involved extreme decentralization: giving a small unit or even an individual soldier
an objective, and telling it or him to get there. In the process of getting there the
Jap practice was constantly to seek to slip through or, if attack was necessary, to
make it from a flank. All accounts agree on the reluctance of the Japs to
push ahead frontally."