Appendix D
A Japanese Analysis of American
Combat Methods on Guadalcanal1


I. Offense

1. Preceding an attack by the American Army, there is always artillery bombardment for at least 12 hours. When this is begun at dawn or on the previous night, there are frequently an attack and an advance in the afternoon. At this time, we invariably open up a persistent checking fire....

2. Attack formation: . . . They are quite brave, and use mainly automatic rifles. On rare occasions they send out ahead patrols of 2 or 3 men.

3. Outline of Infantry Attack: When they come 300 or 400 meters in front of the fortified positions, first of all, they always stop, construct fortified positions, and about 100-200 meters to their rear flank they put up tents (the tents, for the most part, are for one section each, and are not large). Moreover, in front of these positions they station pickets. While reconnoitering they push forward their . . . [battalion howitzers], they continue their bombing, and concentrating their trench mortars on a certain sector, they advance and attack.... When they reach 100 or 150 meters in front of the position, they stop to bombard. They press on while sweeping with fire with their grenade rifles, light [machine] guns and automatic rifles. (In the last phase of combat they use flamethrowers and molotov cocktails). So long as even one of our men remains in a position and resists, they

1. This document, which was captured by Allied forces in New Guinea, was reproduced by ATIS, SWPA, on 21 November 1943 as Enemy Pub No. 56. It is a translation of a 10-page, mimeographed booklet written by a Japanese divisional staff officer and originally distributed to the Japanese in the South and Southwest Pacific Areas on 4 March 1943. The ATIS translation employs several American colloquialisms. After the war a search for the original Japanese booklet was made, that the colloquialisms might be removed, but the booklet could not be found. In this appendix, English words are substituted for the Japanese map symbols which are occasionally used by ATIS. Three sketches in the ATIS publication, showing American attack formations, methods of penetration, and organization of defensive positions, employ Japanese map symbols and have been omitted here. The Japanese and Allied distribution lists have also been omitted. Some changes have been made in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Col. Sidney F. Mashbir, Co-ordinator of ATIS during the war, checked the appendix and concurred in this version. Except for the alterations noted above, the text of the ATIS publication is reproduced almost in full, without change.


do not break through. Even though they realize that the position is completely demolished, they concentrate their trench mortars and then penetrate, yelling loudly.

4. Penetration: . . . If a strong reconnaissance force discovers an opening, after repeated bombardment they occupy it about evening. They build fortified positions until dawn, later adding to them and increasing the number of men. After that, they extend their penetration further to the front and flanks. Consequently, in Guadalcanal they never attempted to break through the depth of our position at one blow.

They penetrate little by little, most cautiously, but very steadily. They advance while successively destroying every fortified position.

5. Attack according to schedule: American troops conduct their attacks according to a planned table. Consequently, as a general rule, there is no such thing as taking advantage of an opportunity. Once they have executed an order which they were given at the outset, they seem to stop.

When their attack fails, they revise their plans on a larger scale. However, the signal unit follows up [establishes and maintains communication] with unexpected speed.

6. Night attack: Although they fire, infantry forces do not engage in night attacks.

II. Defense

1. Organization of an enemy position: It is a zone position without strong points which has as its nucleus special fire points and heavy fire arms.... The same class of troops is generally disposed in all sectors. The . . . [battalion howitzers] (they must be above medium) and the . . . [artillery] are moved by . . . [truck] according to the situation. . .

2. Enemy close range defensive battle depends on . . . [machine guns and battalion howitzers]. As soon as they perceive (by their microphones, etc.2) that we are approaching, they repeatedly carry out a concentrated searching fire of 20 guns in the already prepared zone of fire.

If one breaks this zone or rushes through the pockets, it becomes unexpectedly easy. But breaking through the zone of fire by force, whether by day or night, requires a considerable degree of neutralization and tremendous spirit. One

2. The Japanese apparently believed that American troops employed electric devices, such as microphones, at observation posts to warn them against approaching enemy infantrymen. A similar idea was expressed by Colonel Furumiya (CO, 29th Inf), who was killed in October 1942. He suggested that the Americans were perhaps using machine guns which were operated by remote control, thus eliminating the need for a crew to man the gun. See extracts from his diary in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex I.


should not employ mass formations. The enemy is not clever in a certain sense, for when his positions are penetrated by one of our units he becomes panic-stricken. We should take full advantage of this and should lose no opportunity to penetrate his positions and drive him out of them.

3. Enemy fire is only on prepared points (sectors) and it is almost random fire. In the evening it is especially intense. For that reason we thoroughly reconnoiter the zones which they have prepared, and avoid them. At the same time, there is great value in drawing out enemy fire by a show of force and making the enemy expend recklessly. Moreover, a "feint" . . . attack by a small force is an effective method of attack against this type of enemy.

III. Camp Duties

The functioning of an American camp is extremely crude and imperfect. Although the American Army engages unexpectedly in 5th column activities, the functioning of its outposts is bad. Their security measures have many loop-holes and their night reconnaissance in particular is almost non-existent. There are sentry guards only in the daytime. At night they place pickets (between 15 and 20 men) very sparsely at important points so that infiltration by patrols and small forces is comparatively easy. In these openings, instead of sentry guards, they frequently place microphones. The division has never been able to discover these, but the wires have been noticed. Also direct security of positions is generally bad and extremely careless.

IV. Other Items.

1. American rear and flank susceptibility: The American Army is not susceptible on the flanks and rear. The American positions on Guadalcanal were probably all-out defense positions, and there were none with unprepared rear and flanks. Because of the deployment of their troop strength, which is thought to be sufficient . . ., they very seldom experience any hurt. As is clear from our own attack and a summary of the enemy's attack, the enemy never experiences any great anxiety over his deployment. This is indeed unfortunate. It seems the enemy will never experience any real suffering unless dealt a crushing blow. Therefore, rather than seeking excellence of deployment against the American Army, if we concentrate our entire strength on desirable points whether in the rear of flank, or in front, the enemy will come to be considered comparatively weak.

2. Susceptibility to fire power: The American Army has a weak point in its great susceptibility to artillery and bombing attacks. Several effective rounds alone always rout an attack force of 300-400 or 500~600 in a moment, stemming the attack. For that reason, subjugation by shelling is easy, no matter what the type


of enemy troops. However, the American Air Force takes off from runways during bombardments and frequently maneuvers bravely against rifles, machine guns, etc.

3. Use of machine power and material power: They are skillful in the use of abundant material power and machine power. Even though they are the work of the enemy, newly established automobile roads, the strengthening of positions, speedy construction of . . . [airfields], the setting up of a network of communications, etc., are beautiful things. It demands all the more attention to force them out.

4. Stress laid upon areas in the rear. In the American Army the stress laid upon rear areas is quite considerable, and the Japanese Forces (including the Navy) cannot compare with them. Not only do they form strong points in their rear, but they make persistent and utmost efforts to cut off our rear. This is to say, the enemy is constantly attacking our transport ships rather than our warships. In Guadalcanal they carried this out to an excessive degree, with untiring efforts. Consequently, if we can cut off the enemy's rear areas to half the extent that they do ours, their suffering will be beyond imagination.

5. Progressiveness of American combat methods: The American Army is constantly endeavoring to devise new strategy. In a delaying action of 70 days the American Army used a "non-tactical" attack and defense, but gradually became enlightened thanks to the Japanese Army. Their methods of attack improved, and they finally developed sound methods. Moreover, with the troop deployment which they have decided upon, they are carrying out attacks which have completely changed their first reputation. Therefore it should be said that it is a big mistake generally to disregard the general characteristics of the American Army and to consider their strategy as a fixed thing.

6. The American Army is slow and steady, and does not place all its stakes on one big engagement. Individually or in small forces, they have often taken risks as in sports. As a whole group, however, they are extremely cautious and steady, advancing step by step. If they are not absolutely confident of their positions and strength, they do not attack. Therefore, in accordance with this situation, it is judged that vigorous operations and daring maneuvers will not be carried out for the present by large forces. One reason for this probably is that their officers of middle rank and below possess little tactical ability. Furthermore, if the enemy once gains self-confidence he becomes overly bold, but if any one opposes him he becomes radically less agressive at once. This is seen to be the usual attitude of foreigners....

page updated 16 November 2000

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