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Old October 26th, 2022, 07:09 AM

Charles M Charles M is offline
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Default Japanese game notes: jungle training

Japanese 'jungle experts'?

Once again I feel compelled to write in order to correct some inaccuracies in your background notes.

In the Historical Design Notes, Country Descriptions it says this about the Japanese:

"Japanese infantry was probably the best trained force in the world... and from 1941 the jungle training was also started. In other armies only special forces received such training...The Imperial Guards were an elite force".

The above three statements are all incorrect! All these myths and inaccuracies need to be scotched. If the Japanese really were the best trained infantry, little good did it do them, when allied units later often achieved between 10-100:1 kill ratiois against them[1], and sometimes more [2]. As for jungle training, this is a widespread myth. A British general writing in the UK press on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Singapore also used this excuse, without bothering to do any research about this or the Imperial Guard Division (more on the latter later). In my article on the Japanese forces in the Advanced Squad Leader game that you base WinSPWW2 on, I wrote the following in the ASL Annual:

"...on Bataan by February 1942 – before reinforcements arrived – Japanese morale was so low that troops were reluctant to enter the jungle and face the Allies without air support [3].

... There is no doubt, initially, Allied units were often terrified of facing the Japanese in the jungle [4] and the IJA [Imperial Japanese Army], considered before 1941 to be anywhere between 2nd and 6th-rate [5] by the Allies, became ar army of supermen almost overnight.
It was then thought that Allied troops were less than 50% as effective in the jungle as the Japanese [6] and even Churchill was moved to observe that entering jungles to fight the Japanese was like "going into the water to fight a shark" [7]. The myth was born that all Japanese were jungle-trained but this was not so. In the spring of 1941 some of their troops received such instruction on Formosa [8] or Hainan [9] but these facilities could never have trained all 11 divisions used against the western Allies in the time available. The Taiwan Army Research Section on Formosa was only a small unit (created in January 1941) for research ing into various aspects of jungle warfare [10] but, as one author agrees, if the Japanese really had been experts in jungle fighting "they would not have starved to death while nearby natives ate their fill" [11]. Certainly few – if any – Japanese troops in the early Bataan or Malayan [12] campaigns were jungle-trained, and when Japanese logistics all over the PTO broke down... ...Japanese personnel, especially the lower ranks, either starved to death in large numbers and / or ate grass, roots, bark, wood, rotten food, slugs, insects, tree sap and – ultimately – human flesh to stay alive [13]. Even on Bataan in 1942 the Japanese had to eat their own horses [14], while in the Solomons by the end of the year 100 men were dying of hunger each day [15]. On Guadalcanal alone 10,000 starved to death [16], and a Japanese veteran of New Guinea observed that in such dire straits the jungle "was no place for human beings" [17].

Nor did the Japanese have any love for the jungle [18]... ...but where the Japanese differed from the Allies was in attitude. For Japan, the jungle was the great 'equiliser', a "shield" [19] for her technologically-inferior armies which gave them an edge over the nominally more mobile Allied forces possessing greater firepower. To the Allies, the jungle was almost universally regarded as impenetrable [20] despite some warnings [21] and even limited experiments [22] which cast doubts on the validity of this wishful-thinking, based mostly on observations from the rear seats of staff cars [23]. The Japanese had no such delusions and accepted the hardships of the jungle, living on captured or commandeered suppies and travelling as light as possible... ...Motor vehicles were kept to a minimum. The Allies, for their part, were often over-equipped with motor transport [24] and over-burdened with too much personal gear [25] for the terrain and were thus fatally-dependent on the few roads in existence [26].

This state of affairs of course changed when the allies reduced the levels of motor transport, spread the amount of jungle training to other units, not all of which by the way were special forces, and beat the Japanese at their own game see my article for further details.

As to the Imperial Guards, and other Japanese units, I wrote the following in the article:

.....inadequate training was also a Japanese feature. Prewar conscripts normally served for 2 years (later 3) [27], but the deteriorating war situation shortened the training period, after 1942, to 3 months [28] or less [29] before men left for the front. Even in 1941-42 some formations were raw; the 65th Brigade on Bataan had received less than a month's training [30] and the Imperial Guards Division in Malaya, while expert at ceremonial drill, had last seen action in 1905 [31]. Some officers complained of the 65th Brigade's low standards and poor training, ... ...and in Malaya similar complaints were made... ...[In the appointments by] Imperial General HQ ...there was an unfortunate tendency to choose officers who, due to past personal animosities, were incapable of working together harmoniously or effectively – with unfortunate results for Japan [32]. For example, due to such personality clashes many divisional CO's or leaders of lower rank preferred to ignore unpalatable orders; the Imperial Guards went into battle virtually untrained for war not because of a lack of opportunity but because orders to train vigorously had been ignored, and its inferior performance was matched by its failure to cooperate with other formations [33] in Malaya.

So much for the myth of the Imperial Guards in Malaya, as touted by a certain British general who never checked his facts!

As for the claim that the Japanese infantryman was the "best trained in the world", the evidence based on tactical performance does not bear this out. The following summarises Japanese traits:

Poor marksmanship – bayonet practice made a recreation at the expense of firing practice
Little personal initiative – this beaten out of people in school and army training
A reluctance to accept responsibility at all levels. Thus over-reliance on officers needed
Theatrical displays of courage by officers led to severe casulaties very quickly in combat
Poor leadership - officers often resorting to fist fights to resolve disputes in front of men
Callous regard for the welfare of men made worse by inadequate logistical margins
Repetitive, predictable, tactics that reinforced success or failure. Very expensive in lives
Poor, if there was indeed any, infantry / tank cooperation
Suicidal banzai charges rather than more rational behaviour / tactics
Obsession with capturing high ground
Poor level of patrolling, even with officers present. Easily surprised and ambushed
Often very noisy preparing for attacks
Poor security – valuable intelligence gained from papers found on dead personnel
No training given in case of capture – POWs tended to give away much information

Finally, it is alao a myth that only elite allied units were jungle-trained. Although the British 70th Division was deployed in the first operation behind enemy lines, it was not a 'special forces' unit by any stretch of the imagination [34], as its personnel were not hand-picked volunteers so much as the fittest personnel remaining in July 1941 after older men in the 13th battalion King's Liverpool Regiment had been combed-out. This was a unit intended for internal security in India, not the jungle[35].The 2nd battalion, Argyl and Sutherland Highlanders was not a special forces unit either, merely one that had specialised in jungle warfare as early as 1938. The US 8th Brigade, while receiving jungle training in Australia was an inexperienced unit [36]. A handful of other British line units received jungle training before the war [37], and General Slim went to great efforts to have Australian officers trained in jungle warfare posted to all his units[38].


1. Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Defeat into Victory, London, 1957, p. 512 figures for the Burma theatre, as is an example given by J.P. Cross, Jungle Warfare: Experiences and Encounters, London, 1989, p. 28, for as early 1942.
2. These higher figures are for Luzon, in John Ellis, The Sharp End of War, London, 1980, p. 364 n 11.
3. John W, Whitman, Bataan: Our Last Ditch, NY, 1990, p.424.
4. Lida Mayo, Blood Buna, London, Book Club edn., undated c. 1970, p. 116, Louis Allen, Burma: The Longest War, London 1984, p.114, Barbara Tuchman, Sand Against the Wind, London 1991 edn, p. 451 citing Brigadier General Haydon L. Boatner, 15. June 1944.
5. Adrian Stewart, The Underrated Enemy, London, 1987, pp.11-12 and 55, Raymond Paull, Retreat from Kokoda, London, 1960, p. 15, John Vader, New Guinea: The Tide is Stemmed, London 1972, pp.127 and 134, Defeat into Victory, pp. 217-218, Cross,, pp. 27, 47-48, citing F. Spencer Chapman, The Jungle is Neutral, London, 1950 edn., p. 44, Bryan Perrett, Canopy of War, (henceforth Canopy), London, 1990, p.32, Louis Allen, Singapore: 1941-42, London 1977, p. 34, Tuchman p. 214, (citing Evans F. Carlson, Twin Stars of China, NY, 1940, pp. 31-32, 275, 301-302), Raymond Callahan, Burma 1942-1945, London, 1978, pp. 34, 48-49, 59, 62 and Meiron & Susie Harries, Soldiers of the Sun (henceforth Soldiers), London, 1991, pp. 285, 353.
6 Allen, Burma p. 114, Callahan, p.63 both citing Lt. General N.M.S. Irwin to General Archibald Wavell, May 1942.
7 Cited in Callahan, p. 13, and Robert Cooper 'Arakan: A First Uncertain Step' in Purnell's History of the Second World War (henceforth PHSWW), Vol. 4, No. 2, London, 1967, p. 1381.
8. H.P. Willmott, The Great Crusade, London. 1989, p. 164.
9. Cross, p. 27, and Arthur Swinson, Defeat in Malaya (henceforth Malaya), London, 1969, p. 75.
10. Swinson, p. 18, Swinson, Major Tokuji Morimoto & Mutsuya Nagao 'The Conquest of Malaya' in PHSWW Vol. 2 No. 13, London, 1967, p. 795, and in less detail Vader, pp. 14-15, Canopy, pp. 29-30 and Soldiers, p. 237.
11. J. Lee Ready, The Forgotten Allies, Vol. II, London, 1985, p. 8; also similar comment in Stewart, p. 78.
12. For Bataan, see Whitman, pp. 425-426, and 480; for Malaya see Allen, Singapore, p. 96 and Stewart, loc. cit..
13. Jungle diet: Bryan Perrett, Tank Tracks to Rangoon, London, 1978 (henceforth Rangoon), p. 112, Won Loy Chan, Burma: The Untold Story, Novato CA, 1986, p. 86, Ward Rutherford, Fall of the Philippines, London 1972 edn., p. 116, Ready, pp. 52 and 184, Patrick Turnbull, Battle of the Box, London, 1979, p. 73, Allen, Burma, pp. 286 and 288, Tuchman, pp. 454, and 473, Slim, p. 512, Vader pp. 73 and 103, Charles Whiting, The Poor Bloody Infantry, London, 1987, p.212, Swinson, 'Kohima' in PHSWW, Vol. 14 No. 16, London, 1967, p. 1788 (citing Shizuo Maruyama), op. cit. p. 3133, Moser, p. 157, Canopy, p. 57, Gilbert, p. 700, Louis Allen, Sittang: The Last Battle, London, 1973, pp. 79, 81-82, 121-122 and 151, Mayo, pp.65, 86, 157 and 174, Paull, pp. 181, 193, 218-219, 270 and 273, and Soldiers, pp. 339-344, 352, 362-363 and 391. Cannibalism: testimonies of Sergeant Tashio Hara to Kenzo Okuzaki in 'The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On', True Stories, Channel 4 Television, UK, 1990, Vader, pp. 81, 103 and 140, op. cit., 'The Kokoda Trail', in PHSWW Vol. 4 No. 2, London, 1967, p. 1376, Mayo, p. 16, Ready, pp. 52 and 83, Lord Russell of Liverpool, The Knights of Bushido, London, 1958, pp. 57, 181n, and 235-240, Michael Calvert, Chindits, London, 1974 edn., p. 137, Saburo Ienaga, Japan's Last War (published in the USA as The Pacific War), Oxford, 1977, p192, Cross, p. 49, Allen, Burma, pp. 382, 609 and 612 (no instances cited due to hunger), Paull, pp. 271-272, 290-291 and 295-302, and Soldiers, pp. 343-344, 362 and 413.
14. Whitman, p. 363.
15. Mayo, pp. 156-157.
16. John Ellis, Brute Force, London, 1990, p.465, citing General Miyazaki in J. Toland, The Rising Sun, NY, 1970, p. 541, and Soldiers, p. 342.
17. Sergeant Kichitaro Yamada to Kenzo Okuzaki in True Stories.
18. Malaya, p. 75, Cross, p. 47 and Soldiers, p. 282.
19. Cross, p. 28.
20. Whitman, pp. 13, 91, 204 and 207, Malaya, p. 31, Rutherford, p. 103, Ready, pp. 10-11 and 50-51, Turnbull, p. 5 (introduction by General Sir Philip Christison), Stewart, p. 211 (citing Major General James Lunt), Paull, p. 48, Chapman, p. 24, Slim, pp. 39 and 158, Canopy, p. 34, Cross, p. 21 and Soldiers, pp. 260 and 279, and Commander William King, The Stick and the Stars, London 1958, p. 21 and 104, (republished 1983 as Dive and Attack), (1983 edn.) pp. 28 and 121. A submarine officer, King discovered the true nature of jungle terrain while surveying the Malay Peninsula before the war. The estimate that troops could cover ten miles per day was to prove accurate.
21. Malaya, p. 33 and Canopy, p. 30.
22. King, p. 28. The survey report was ignored, p. 121-122.
23. Chapman, p. 24.
24. Allen, Singapore, pp. 192 and 206, Stewart, p. 78, Cross, p. 43 and Don Moser & others (Eds.), China-Burma-India, Chicago 1978, p. 22.
25. Loc. cit..
26. Stewart, p. 144, Allen Singapore, p. 192, Tuchman, p. 257, Callahan, p. 100, Slim, pp. 24, 39, 42, 121, and 522-523, Whitman, pp. 218-219, Canopy, p. 34, Moser, loc. cit., and Brigadier Sir John Smyth in 'The Long Retreat' in PHSWW Vol. 3 No. 3, London, 1967, pp. 956-957.
27. W.V. Madej (Ed.), Japanese War Mobilisation and the Pacific Campaign, Allentown PA, no date, pp. 3 and 6, and US War Department, Handbook on Japanese Military Forces (henceforth Handbook), London 1991 edn. pp. 4-6.
28. Handbook, p. 2, and A.J. Barker, Japanese Army Handbook, 1939-1945, London, 1979, p. 10.
29. Barker, loc. cit., and Soldiers, pp. 270 and 385
30. Rutherford, p. 96.
31. Malaya, p. 19 and Allen, Singapore p. 103.
32. Allen, Burma, pp. 164, 206, 286ff and 307, Canopy, p. 108.
33. Malaya, pp. 19, 96, 102 and 136.
34. Chapman, p.24, Cross, p. 40, Callahan, p. 20 Slim, pp. 32 and 217-217, and Eric Morris, Guerrillas in Uniform, London 1989, pp 194-195.
35. Morris, p. 194.
36. Vader, p. 140.
37. Chapman, p.24, Cross, p. 40, and Charles L. Rolo, Wingate's Raiders, Viking Press, NY, 1944, p. 27, Callahan, p. 20 Slim, p. 32, and Morris, p. 175.
38. Cross, p. 29.
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Old October 26th, 2022, 10:02 AM
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Default Re: Japanese game notes: jungle training

Originally Posted by Charles M View Post
Japanese 'jungle experts'?

... In my article on the Japanese forces in the Advanced Squad Leader game that you base WinSPWW2 on, ...
Your assumption is incorrect. SP was originally based off of tactical miniature games.
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Old October 26th, 2022, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: Japanese game notes: jungle training

The SSI game seems to hae come from panzerblitz as a progenitor. And likely a couple of others, like Sniper!.

However when I saw the game it was the best computer rendition of 1/300 type tabletop games, and any of the work I put into our versions comes from tabletop rules background (Wargames Research Group, Tabletop Games 'Firefly' and 'Challenger' sets, etc.).

I was never into the hex-based paper shuffling games like Cross of Iron. Way too expensive this side of the pond at about 25 quid a module in the 70s (ouch!), and multiple modules being needed to play stuff against a couple of quid for a rule book that covered all the armies, a couple of quid on the army list book (if any), and a couple of quid on a set of Heroics & Ross models and use the clubs terrain and tables.

There was a guy who had those - but he never would loan his sets out to others to learn the rules, so we only saw it laid out a couple of times as a demo.

At 25 quid a boxed set, buying 10 of those equated to a Honda 125, at least IIRC mine was 200 odds quid when I bought it at 19 year old. the expense was a similar reason why the apple II computers never flew off the shelves here when the micro computing wave occurred - Spectrums, BBCs, Dragons all were home produced at reasonable prices, but US imports usually flipped the dollar sign for pounds, when pounds were 2-3(?) to the dollar still, while a pint at the students uniion was 20 pence and I think a weekend training with the Territorial Army netted me about four quid. (I did not bother with OTC when I was at Uni since the TA actually paid you (plus a tax-free bounty if you did all of your specified training for the year, at annulal camp. Oh, and then you had a forces large tax-free duty free allowance if annual camp was over in Germany!) and the OTC did not (or just paid pennies)).

Plus the Nationals and then the later World Team Championships were all based on use of models and rule books so the USA hex-shuffling games were never a big influence this side of the pond.

So, no, we arent panzerblitz oriented, though SSI may well have been as they were Americans. Don did play some hex-based stuff, but as a Canadian, he would not have been ripped off quite so much in the dollar-to-pound exchange shenanigans.
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Old October 26th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Exclamation Re: Japanese game notes: jungle training

Originally Posted by Charles M View Post
Japanese 'jungle experts'?
This is so incredibly tiresome it's difficult to stay polite but I will

At no time in that write-up, which was done 20+ years ago, is it written that the Japanese were 'jungle experts'. It fact in no place in that write up about the Japanese was the word "expert" used at all

None. So the entire post is built on a false statement

That is the "interpretation" of the write-up by the original poster. The phrase 'jungle experts' is not in the write up. What it says is "from 1941 the jungle training was also started"

Training does not = "expert" it just means they started jungle training a bit earlier than other armies.

As stated that write up was made 20+ years ago by the principal author(s) of the original DOS OOB.

As for the Japanese being "probably the best trained force in the world"..... any statement that starts with " probably" is an opinion and it is debatable ( though I have ZERO interest in debating it ) IIRC ( it was 2 decades ago ) this was meant to mean at the start of the war and at the start of the war many allied nations had a lot of catching up to do which they did in time

If you find you are constantly reacting to your enemy's tactics instead forcing the enemy to react to yours, you are losing the battle....

Last edited by DRG; October 26th, 2022 at 03:03 PM..
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Old October 29th, 2022, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: Japanese game notes: jungle training

Like the Australians and Americans in the Pacific jungles the Japanese learned.

Their "advantages" were fanatical troops, harsh discipline, and less "tail" (which hurt them significantly) in their formations.
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