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TM-E 30-480: Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text and illustrations are taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Technical Manual. As with all wartime manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the original technical manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

Chapter VII: Tactics of the Japanese Army

Section XI: Japanese Joint Operations

1. GENERAL. a. Definition. Joint operations as discussed in this chapter are operations involving both Army and Naval forces, including air; transportation by sea and a landing on hostile shores are entailed.

(1) Troop commander is the officer commanding all the forces which are to land.

(2) Convoy commander is the naval officer in charge of the movement by sea to the debarkation point. When there is an escort accompanying the convoy, the Escort commander is superior to the Convoy commander.

(3) Transport officer commands the special troops whose duty is to embark and debark the landing force. It is believed that this title is synonymous with that of Debarkation commander.

b. Purpose. Joint operations usually are employed for the purposes of seizing an island, establishing a beachhead as a prelude to future operations, or enveloping a hostile flank by sea. The principles of planning are essentially the same regardless of the purpose. Joint operations are usually large scale undertakings, although it is interesting to note the increased employment of the envelopment by sea, which may be attempted with a relatively small force.

c. Composition of forces. The size and composition of the force depend on the anticipated enemy strength, the terrain to be encountered, knowledge of defensive installations, and the scope of the operations. The force will include such special troops and equipment which are considered necessary to overcome anticipated difficulties. In some instances, a Special Naval Landing Party has been included to cover the landing of the Army troops.

d. Doctrine. Complete cooperation between Army and Navy is essential, the Army commander being given more responsibility in the operation than is awarded the naval commander. Secrecy, careful preparation, quick action, and deception also are prerequisites of success. Since landing operations are made under relatively unknown conditions, control and communications are difficult, and therefore all commanders should be ready to display initiative and to make individual decisions when instructions are lacking. Confusion can be expected with resultant demoralization. In view of this fact, troops must execute landing operations forcefully and with initiative in spite of bad weather, rough seas, persistent attacks by hostile planes and submarines, or strong enemy resistance.

2. RECONNAISSANCE AND PLANS. a. Reconnaissance. (1) Prior reconnaissance may result in loss of the element of surprise; nevertheless it is essential.

(2) Air reconnaissance of the proposed landing points must be made by competent officers who will participate in the landing. Aerial photographs showing the landing points both at high and low tides must be studied by all units.

(3) Reconnaissance from the sea must be carried out with secrecy. Submarines may be used, but their activities are limited by the depth of their draft and the limited view through their periscopes. Speed boats may be used, but care must be taken lest they disclose the plan.

(4) Although the method of reconnaissance will vary according to the mission, the time of day, and the equipment available, the following information should be gained at the earliest opportunity:

(a) General topography.

(b) Enemy dispositions.

(c) Hydrography.

(d) Topography, width, nature, and facilities of the beach.

(e) Condition of surf at high and low tides.

(f) Objectives and routes of advance.

(g) Existence of airfields.

(h) Correctness of existing maps.

b. Plans. (1) Based on the reconnaissance, the troop and convoy commanders select the anchorage and landing beach. Wherever possible, the beach selected should be one where enemy fortifications are weak. It should be so located that the plan of attack cap be easily carried out, and it must be suitable for the landing of equipment. Alternate landing points should be selected in case the enemy situation or condition of the surf should dictate a change. When landings are to be made at more than one point, excessive dispersion must be avoided.

(2) The landing plan must have a margin of flexibility and must provide for delegation of authority so that rapidly developing situations can be met promptly.

(3) Plans must be worked out in every detail and all personnel be thoroughly familiar with them.

3. EMBARKATION AND REHEARSAL. a. Embarkation. The transport officer assigned to the convoy must carefully consider the troop commander's plan for landing. Based on this plan, he allocates space aboard the ships and prepares the order of loading. Extreme care must be exercised in loading the first wave so that its debarkation will be expedited. All materiel to be used by troops must be so loaded that it goes ashore in the correct sequence and at the time it is needed. If tanks are to be used with the first wave, they must be loaded on the same transport as the troops of that wave. Materiel should be so divided among the several ships of the convoy that the loss of any one will not seriously affect the success of the operation. If cranes will carry the load, boats and barges should be put over the side fully loaded.

b. Rehearsal. A transport which has completed loading will normally proceed either singly or in formation to the assembly point where it joins the convoy. Rehearsals of the landing will be undertaken at the assembly point as a continuation of previous training. Since the time for this is limited, emphasis must be placed on the more important aspects of the landing. During the trip from the assembly area to the anchorage or debarkation point, all final arrangements will be made and instructions issued.

4. ACTIONS BEFORE LANDING. a. Transport commander's orders. At the assembly point, or immediately after leaving it, the transport commander will issue orders pertaining to the debarkation of the various units. These orders generally will cover the following points:

(1) Time for completion of landing preparations.

(2) Order of landing.

(3) Assignment of boats and barges.

(4) Hour of debarkation.

(5) Formation of ship to shore movement.

(6) Antisubmarine, antiaircraft, and antigas measures.

(7) Time for recall of boats.

(8) Communications between transports and beach.

(9) Rescue measures.

b. Responsibility of the convoy commander. (1) Formation of the convoy.

(2) Communication between transports.

(3) Use of weapons for protection of the convoy.

(4) Care of casualties aboard transports while en route.

(5) Protection of the landing force. (This, it is believed, refers to naval gun fire covering the landing.)

(6) Formation of ships in the anchorage. They should be anchored parallel to the beach, and in single or multiple columns.

c. Other requirements. Landing units and debarkation units must complete all preparations for the landing the evening prior to arrival at the debarkation area. Commanders of all grades must be familiar with all details of the operation.

5. ACTION DURING LANDING. a. Timing. The landing should be timed so that the first wave will reach the shore just before dawn. If attack from the air, or an advance up a long defile is expected after landing, it may be necessary to start landing about midnight so that most of the personnel will be ashore by dawn. If the landing cannot be made at night or under cover of fog, a daylight landing may be necessary. In this case the landing should be covered by smoke, laid by the use of floating smoke candles. Transports may also fire smoke shells on important enemy positions such as observation posts and searchlights. (Fig. 148.)

b. Formation of landing waves. Generally all boats of each wave get under way at the same time. If the anchorage is at a considerable distance from shore, the landing barges may come shorewards in columns for ease of control and direction. In this formation, a certain amount of maneuver is possible so as to deceive the enemy as to the exact landing point. As the column approaches the beach it deploys and continues to the shore, regardless of hostile resistance.

[Figures 148 and 149. Smoke action during landing operations in eastern New Guinea.]
Figures 148 and 149. Smoke action during landing operations in eastern New Guinea.

c. Functions of work units. Work units from the debarkation troops are charged with the removal of under water obstacles, marking the route for succeeding waves, construction of landing installations, rescue of men in the sea, salvage of damaged barges and when the occasion requires, they also act as combat troops.

d. Protection. The movement of landing craft from ship to shore should be protected against flank attack by the employment of armed barges, patrolling on the flanks.

e. Liaison, communication, and supply. (1) Liaison must be established between combat and debarkation units.

(2) Communication is maintained by the use of high-speed armored boats, radio, carrier pigeons, flag and lamp signals, and, when the anchorage is close inshore, by the use of submarine cables.

(3) Since the landing of supplies frequently is delayed, landing troops must carry extra food and ammunition. Supply dumps will be established near the shore as soon as possible.

6. ACTION AFTER LANDING. a. The first wave. The crucial time of the landing is when the boats reach the beach and troops disembark. The first units to land will deploy at once and immediately attack in full force to rout the immediate enemy and push inland. The first wave will secure the beach, and if necessary, dig in and hold till reinforcements land, at which time the offensive will be resumed. Bicycles and motor vehicles must be assigned to those units leading the advance or to reserves who will be used to exploit success.

b. Assault detachments. Each company commander should organize and have trained special assault detachments designed to neutralize fortifications and reduce centers of resistance by attacking them from the rear. Personnel of such detachments should land as a unit in one boat.

c. Feints. Feints may be used with success at appropriate times. These may be made through the employment of mine sweepers, aerial reconnaissance, bombing, ship's gun fire, by the routing of a transport to a false landing point, and even by making a temporary landing.

d. Supplementary landings. It is possible to assist the main landing by putting a unit ashore on a headland or difficult beach where the enemy is not expecting a landing. This unit can work around in rear of the enemy, attack his flank, and cut his lines of communication.

e. Artillery. (1) When naval gun fire is used to cover landings, care must be taken so as not to disclose the plans prematurely. The troop commander issues the orders for opening fire.

(2) Part of the field artillery should be landed early to give direct support to the infantry near the water's edge. It is assigned the mission of neutralizing fire from fortifications and weapons protecting hostile flanks. Liaison must be maintained among artillery units so that fire may be coordinated. Positions for artillery should be chosen near the landing point but away from distinctive terrain features; they should be concealed from the air and inaccessible to hostile tanks. Infantry commanders give the accompanying artillery units assistance in changing positions or in moving forward.

f. Tanks. If tanks are used in the landing operations, they may be attached to front line battalions for employment at the water's edge, or retained for use in the attack at a later stage. If the situation dictates, the battalion commander must not hesitate to sub-allot tanks to companies.

7. NAVAL SUPPORT. a. General. In most landings that have been observed, naval units have escorted the troop transports to the point of debarkation and have supported the landing. During the earlier operations, naval vessels showed a marked tendency to leave the point of debarkation as quickly as possible, undoubtedly because of fear of hostile air attacks.

b. Naval gun fire. Naval gun fire in most instances has not been employed far in advance of the actual landing; the general practice has been to open fire on shore installations just prior to the hour of debarkation. At Kota Bharu, the naval gun fire did not commence until the troops had transferred from transports to landing craft. Fire was well placed and controlled.

c. Air support. In all Japanese landings first consideration has been given to neutralizing hostile air strength. Such effort has been highly successful in most cases, but at Kota Bharu the plan to destroy British planes on the ground failed, and, as a result, severe casualties were suffered. Japanese air has cooperated closely with ground units and has supported them well in the advance after the landing.

8. NOTES ON LANDING OPERATIONS. a. The Philippines. The principles of surprise and deception are well illustrated in the Japanese landings on the Philippines. A surprise air attack gave the Japanese quick control of the air. After this was secured, landings were made at opposite ends of the island of Luzon, the forces in each case comprising a special naval landing party and a reinforced brigade. Both landings were unopposed, and the forces at once began to establish beachheads, apparently to provide for the main landings which were yet to come. Each had naval escort and air support, and the landings were carried out rapidly and without confusion. When the main landings did occur, they were made on opposite sides of the central (narrow) part of the island, and although they were opposed, forces from the initial landings were able to put sufficient pressure on the defender's flanks to cause him to withdraw.

b. Kota Bharu. The landing at Kota Bharu in northern Malaya was made in 2 echelons. The first echelon, consisting of engineers, infantry, tanks, 37-mm guns, and mortars was to land and cover the debarkation of the remainder of the division. Under cover of darkness it entered the anchorage, supported by a squadron of heavy cruisers and 2 aircraft carriers. The Japanese knew that the beach was organized for defense and that their landing would be opposed. When the initial landing wave had been transferred to landing craft, the guns of the naval escort opened fire on shore installations, the first indication that a landing was being attempted. The first wave proceeded rapidly toward the beach and suffered heavy casualties, both from fire and from under water obstacles. Naval gun fire was well directed and finally concentrated on one portion of the beach where a few of the defensive guns had been put out of action. A channel was cleared through the obstacles to this beach, and succeeding waves, proceeding slowly and guided by the engineers, landed with few casualties. The Japanese reserves were used up in this landing, and their position would have been critical had not the main force arrived in the anchorage at that time and rushed reinforcements ashore. Planes from the carriers were assigned the mission of destroying British planes on the airfield, but, as a result of faulty timing, arrived over the target after the British had taken to the air. Japanese fear of hostile air was well founded in this case, as the few British planes caused heavy damage to the transports.

c. Both landing operations described here had been well rehearsed beforehand.

9. COMMENTS. a. The Japanese plan their landing operations carefully and issue orders complete in every detail.

b. Reconnaissance is thorough, and even small units are given maps and aerial photographs.

c. The army troop commander has more authority in the planning than the naval commander.

d. Landings are always escorted by naval vessels and supported by air.

e. Control of the air is regarded as necessary to a successful landing, and the Japanese have attempted to neutralize hostile aircraft in every instance.

f. The principle of surprise generally is employed in landing operations, either by concealing the time of landing or its exact location.

g. Deception, as in all Japanese tactics, is frequently used to conceal the location of the main landing or to land smaller forces at an unexpected point to assist the main landing.

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