The following notes taken from an Allied publication, were issued in the
abridged form in which they appear in this article. They are based on an original
operational directive of a Japanese infantry unit which was to have taken part in
the attack on Port Moresby. The wording of the directive has been followed, and
although the actual text has been paraphrased somewhat, literal translations
have been left where they appear typically descriptive or apposite.
* * *
a. Main Considerations
Most of the fighting will take place in jungle country. River crossing
engagements will be frequent. Enemy equipment is excellent.
b. Approach March
During the crossing of the Owen Stanley Range, the column will probably
be spread out over a considerable distance; but on approaching more level jungle
country, the column will close up to ensure adequate control and immediate readiness
(1) Speed -- Rapidity of the advance is of paramount importance. Any
delay will give the enemy time to destroy bridges and build obstacles. Be prepared
to swim across rivers if bridges are destroyed.
(2) Communications -- Commanders will ensure that full agreement is
reached on signal communications, and that radio sets are correctly distributed. On
the march, Bn. Hq. will have either a No. 5 or a No. 2 set, Co. Hq. a No. 6 set,
and unit or organization Hq. No. 3 sets. All communications will be tested at halts.
(3) Reconnaissance -- Reconnaissance patrols must precede the main
body. Their primary task will be the reconnaissance of ground so that during the
approach march the maximum use can be made of cover provided by natural
c. Battle Drill (General)
(1) Leadership -- The resolute leadership of junior commanders is
essential to ensure that nothing holds up the speed of the advance. Prompt action
in dealing with unforeseen situations is a guarantee for quick success. "If the
advance is delayed, enemy preparations on the one hand will become greatly
improved; while on the other hand our own ammunition and food will become
exhausted and the sick will increase. Therefore each unit will ignore severe
hardships, resolutely and promptly enter the fight carrying out the assault to
the final objective."
(2) Alternative Methods of Attack -- Decoy the enemy from one direction
by the use of smoke, firing or even shouting, and attack him from an unexpected
direction. Utilize the advantages of rain and fog for catching the enemy off guard. Make
an attack when our own aircraft are bombing the enemy. "Make an assault
suddenly from positions which the enemy believes to be unapproachable, such as
cliffs, rivers, streams, steep inclines and jungle."
(3) Precautions -- During an attack, avoid grouping in exposed positions
such as hill tops, villages and bridges which provide excellent targets for enemy
machine guns, artillery and bombing. For example, when one unit attacks, the
following unit should deploy and take cover to prepare for the next assault.
d. Special Considerations
(1) Night Attacks -- "The use of dusk, night and dawn is a special tactical
characteristic of the Imperial Forces. Although fatigue may be great from the
combat during the day, courage must be renewed to take advantage of darkness to
develop the engagement."
On account of the heavy fire-power of the automatic weapons of the enemy
and their skill at close-range firing, a headlong frontal attack, even at night, should
be avoided. A night attack must be carefully planned, and full advantage taken of
natural terrain features.
(2) Flanking Envelopment -- The utmost use should be made of natural
cover. Part of the force will make a holding attack on the enemy's front, while
the main body deploys to make a "bold, resolute and prompt flanking movement" to
attack the enemy rear. Smoke should be used if the enemy anticipates the maneuver.
(3) Close Range Reconnaissance -- Patrols composed of personnel especially
selected for their good eyesight (such as fishermen or the aborigines of Panape
Island) should be formed for close-range reconnaissance of the enemy positions
in thick jungle.
(4) Jungle Fighting -- No jungle country is impassable. On the contrary, its
special features should be extensively utilized for surprise and out-flanking
tactics. Infantry units must be adequately equipped with machetes; native knives are also
suitable for hacking a way through thick jungle.
(5) Hostile Aircraft Attack -- With the considerable increase in enemy
air activity, the following precautions will be taken: rapid deployment, night
moves when practicable and use of natural camouflage and camouflage equipment. The
location of the headquarters will be carefully chosen and the movement of
personnel and vehicles around this area should be reduced to a minimum. If
possible, each unit should detail an officer to be responsible for locating the
headquarters of his organization. Wooded areas should be used for the camouflage
of guns and ammunition. Smoke from cooking will be a certain target. Troops
should accordingly be warned to keep at least a hundred yards distant from the
source of any smoke during a raid. On the other hand smoke can frequently be
used with success as a decoy.
(6) Communications -- When units are operating in an independent role, difficulty
is often experienced in maintaining communications when fighting. Pay
particular attention to the following points: find out when and what to report, send
out as many (situation) reports as possible, and make certain that a report is sent
out at least three times a day, even if it is only a unit position report. Ascertain
the whereabouts of the radio section and confirm that it has been issued a communication
time schedule. In general signal communications have fallen far below expectation.
(7) Use of Compass -- As most of the fighting will take place in jungle
country and maps are inaccurate, as many compasses as possible should be
distributed. The maximum information on road conditions should be obtained from
our patrols, prisoners and natives.
(8) Enemy Supply Depots -- If the battle does not progress favorably, enemy
supply depots should at all costs be captured intact in order to ease our
own supply difficulties. The enemy must be prevented from destroying his supplies.
(9) Use of Captured Weapons and Ammunition -- As our units are only
lightly equipped with arms and ammunition, make a careful study of enemy weapons
so that they can be utilized when captured. Note that our advance elements have
already captured a quantity of enemy rifles and ammunition which have been found
All captured material and documents from prisoners and enemy dead must
be promptly handed over for examination.
All important information including estimated losses, abandoned enemy
corpses, captured weapons, and ammunition expended must be turned in by platoon
and company commanders. Accuracy in the compilation of these reports is not
essential, but speed is important.
Comment: Although much of the above may now seem trite, the theme
running through the directive is still the basis of Japanese tactics. Note the special
emphasis on careful reconnaissance, speed of advance, night attacks and the
flanking movement through "impassable and impossible" country which have been
the predominant features of Japanese battle drill wherever they have fought us. Note
also that their G-4 staff are encouraged to cut supplies and equipment to the
bare minimum and are permitted to anticipate the utilization of enemy equipment
and especially supplies.