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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 III: Field Organization

Section III: Services (Nondivisional)

1. GENERAL. The services of the Japanese Army are:

Technical, including ordnance.
Judicial (legal).
Military band.

All services listed above are under control of the Ministry of War with lieutenant generals in command. Although the Japanese consider transport and signal communications as line branches, they are grouped here with the services for convenience of discussion.

2. TRANSPORT. Transport is divided into road (animal and mountain), railway, and water units.

a. Road transport units. (1) General. Transport regiments of depot divisions form the source of personnel for division and independent transport regiments as well as for other units requiring transport personnel.

(2) Field transport commands. (Yasen Yusobu). These are usually commanded by major generals. They are administrative organizations probably controlling all independent transport units under an army command.

(3) Field motor transport depots (Yasen Jidoshasho). These are usually under command of a colonel or lieutenant colonel, except in the larger theaters of operations (Asiatic Mainland) where a major general commands. They are believed to be administrative units responsible for storage, maintenance, and control of motor transport in a given operational area.

(4) Independent transport regiments (horse). These are estimated to number about 3,000 officers and men. Commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel, they are composed of a headquarters and from 4 to 8 draft or pack transport companies.

(5) Motor transport regiments. These consist of about 1,500 officers and men with 300 vehicles. They are commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel.

(6) Independent transport battalions (horse). These are estimated at about 1,700 officers and enlisted men and usually are commanded by majors. They are composed of a headquarters and 3 to 4 draft or pack transport companies.

(7) Independent motor transport battalions. These are estimated at about 800 officers and enlisted men divided into a headquarters and three companies. Usually commanded by majors, they are believed to be equipped with about 150 one and one-half ton trucks.

(8) Independent transport companies (horse). These are estimated at about 350 officers and enlisted men, and commanded by captains or first lieutenants. They usually are equipped with about 200 to 250 single-horse, 2-wheel, transportation carts (1/4-ton).

(9) Independent motor transport companies. Estimated at about 175 officers and men and about 50 trucks, these units are commanded by a captain or first lieutenant. They are divided into 3 platoons and a maintenance section, with the platoons consisting of 4 or 5 sections each.

(10) Provisional transport units. Such units, formed by assigning combat or service elements other than transport to provisionally formed transport units, will be found operating behind the lines. Their size, organization, and equipment will vary depending upon their mission; after its completion they return to normal duties.

(11) Line of communication transport supervision detachments. These consist of military and civilian personnel, whose duties are to supervise and control locally commandeered transport.

b. Railway units. (1) Railway commands (Tetsudo Bu), field railways (Yasen Tetsudo), special railways (Tokusetsu Tetsudo), and railway transport (Tetsudo Yuso). These units are believed to maintain, control, and coordinate rail traffic in the larger theaters. They are composed of a headquarters, one or more railway regiments, supply depots, and construction and operation units. They are commanded by general officers.

(2) Railway regiments. The railway regiment consists of a headquarters, 4 battalions (2 companies of 4 platoons), and a supply depot. Strength is approximately 2,500 officers and enlisted men, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel. Such regiments are designed to operate and guard railways.

(3) Armored train units. These are reported to consist of about 500 officers and enlisted men (infantry, artillery, and engineers) and to operate armored trains.

c. Water (shipping) units. Water (shipping) units are headed by a sea transport headquarters in Japan.

(1) Branch offices, termed shipping groups, are situated at the principal base ports in theaters of operations. They control a variable number of shipping engineer regiments and debarkation units.

(2) Shipping engineer regiments. These units are the barge operators in the Japanese Army. They are equipped with the necessary landing craft and equipment for amphibious operations and movement of supplies and men. Organizational strength approximates 1,200 officers and enlisted men, divided into a headquarters and 3 companies of several sections each. A lieutenant colonel normally commands. The regiment is equipped with 150 to 200 landing craft of all types.

(3) Debarkation units. These include necessary personnel and equipment for the loading and unloading of transports at the more forward bases or during landing operations. Strength is estimated at 1,000 officers and enlisted men.

(4) Shipping transport commands (headquarters). These, like shipping groups, are situated at the principal base ports, where they are responsible for the shipping installations at these bases. They also fuel vessels, store cargoes and, in conjunction with the Navy, plan and route sea transport in a given area. Size of the unit depends on the volume of shipping in the theater.

(5) Shipping transport area units. These are variable sized units responsible for the armament and defense of vessels operating in a particular area. They control shipping ordnance, shipping antiaircraft artillery, and shipping signal units, detachments of which are assigned for the defense of intercommunication between vessels and convoys.

(6) Anchorage units. These are believed composed of a headquarters and variable number of land duty, water duty, and construction duty companies. Respectively, these companies are probably a stevedore company of approximately 350 officers and enlisted men, a barge and lighter operations company of the same strength, and a general construction engineer company probably also of the same strength.

(7) Shipping transport battalions. The existence of these units is known, but details of their organization are lacking. They are believed to operate small sailing and motor craft.

3. INTENDANCE. a. General. Intendance service is responsible for clothing, rations, forage, contracts, pay, and the upkeep of army buildings. It is a separate organization combining functions of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps and Finance Department. It is under the control of the Intendance Bureau of the War Ministry. Intendance personnel are assigned to armies, divisions, and lower units, they also are found at various depots, factories, and other places requiring accounting and quartermaster services.

b. Field freight depots. They are to be found functioning as units or split into branches along the lines of communication of armies. Each depot is responsible for the supply of several divisions. They store and supply rations, clothing, and other supplies.

4. ORDNANCE (TECHNICAL SERVICE). a. General. Prior to organization of the technical service (Gijutsu Bu) in 1941, ordnance duties in the Japanese Army were performed by personnel detailed from various branches, usually artillery and engineers, who functioned under general supervision of the ordnance bureau of the War Ministry. At present, however, ordnance personnel belong to the technical service. As the name implies, this service includes the various types of technicians in the army, such as gunsmiths, mechanics, electricians, saddlers, etc., all of whom may be attached or assigned to units as required.

b. Functions. Ordnance personnel are responsible for providing arms, ammunition, engineer stores, and supplies not furnished by the intendance service. Ordnance functions are discharged in the field by field ordnance depots, stationed at principal rear bases. Size of these depots will vary according to the theater of operations, and branches will be found along the lines of communications.

5. MEDICAL. a. General. The medical service is a separate service functioning under the medical bureau of the War Ministry. In addition to divisional medical service, the following units are known to exist:

b. Casualty clearing stations. These are unassigned medical units with a strength of approximately 100 officers and enlisted men. They evacuate casualties from the division field hospitals to line of communication hospitals.

c. Line of communication hospitals. These, with a strength of about 250 officers and enlisted men, can accommodate 500 to 1,000 patients. They consist of 2 sections and are usually found at rear bases or along the lines of communication.

d. Army hospitals. These are larger hospitals of varying size generally situated well behind forward base areas.

e. Base hospitals. In each home divisional district, there are hospitals to meet the requirements of the various units in peacetime. These, as well as private and other Government hospitals, are utilized as base hospitals during wartime.

6. VETERINARY. This is a separate service which functions under the horse administration section, military administration bureau, of the War Ministry. A veterinary department or section is attached to the staff of armies, area armies, divisions, and other oversea commands, while detachments operate with all units containing animals. Veterinary hospitals, with a staff of about 150 capable of handling 700 sick horses, and veterinary quarantine hospitals are found along the lines of communication or at bases.

7. SIGNAL. a. General. Before the war the functions of the signal corps were performed by communication units of the corps of engineers. In 1941, however, an Inspectorate of Communications was set up directly subordinate to the War Department General Staff. This was tantamount to the establishment of a separate signal corps. Troops are classified as signal communication men.

b. The signal regiment (army signal unit). (1) The regiment is composed of a headquarters, several wire companies (motor, draft, or pack), several radio platoons (motor, draft, or pack), a fixed radio unit, a radio intercept unit, and a field pigeon unit.

(2) The headquarters consists of about 120 officers and enlisted men, and includes a transport section, a repair section, and an air-ground radio section.

(3) The wire companies' approximate strengths are 260 men draft, 320 pack, and 300 motor. They are believed to be equipped with 36 telephones and 8 telegraph instruments. The draft and pack companies carry about 35 miles of wire, while the motor companies carry 70 miles. Companies include a signal platoon, 3 maintenance platoons, and a transport platoon.

(4) Radio platoons operate 1 radio station. They include draft, pack, or motor transportation, and are of 35 to 45 men in strength.

(5) The fixed radio unit has a strength of about 25 officers and enlisted men and operates a long distance radio station.

(6) The radio intercept unit is divided into a headquarters with train, an intercept unit equipped with 6 receivers, and a direction-finder unit equipped with 4 direction finders. Its strength is approximately 290 officers and enlisted men.

(7) The pigeon unit has a headquarters of some 20 officers and men, including a train, as well as several pigeon platoons. A platoon has about 50 men and is divided into 3 sections, each equipped with 40 carrier pigeons.

(8) Although complete signal regiments as outlined above are likely to be found operating with the larger headquarters, it will be more usual to find their individual components operating as independent units on the line of communication or with smaller organizations in the field to supplement their signal networks.

c. Shipping signal units are composed of a headquarters and 2 companies. Personnel is assigned to maintain radio liaison between transports and shipping establishments. Companies have a strength of about 300, while the regiment totals 635 officers and men.

d. The air signal unit is a company of about 320 officers and enlisted men. It is divided into 3 platoons and is employed chiefly in maintaining communications within an air brigade. The unit probably also operates direction-finder apparatus.

8. ARMY POSTAL SERVICE. The Japanese Army's postal system operates through networks of central, field, and branch post offices set up in forward and rear areas. APO numbers evidently are assigned to localities, rather than to units, and remain fixed. In certain instances field post offices may act as paying agencies for the army, in addition to accepting and delivering military mail and handling postal money orders and military postal savings. A free air-mail service for army personnel is reported in operation.

9. JUDICIAL. The judicial (legal) service of the Japanese Army formerly was entirely in the hands of civilians attached to various units. In 1941 these civilians were, commissioned in the Army, where they continue to perform their usual legal duties.

10. MILITARY BAND. This service furnishes the personnel for the Japanese army bands. These bands do not appear to have any secondary duties.

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