From "Combat Lessons 1, 4,5,6 "
The following text is excerpts from "Combat Lessons" pamphlets from 1944-1945. I collected this info to assist in our preparations for the Island Excursion event held September of 2006.
In Bivouac Report of Commanding General, 43d Division
New Georgia Campaign: “Security in bivouac was a big problem in
this New Georgia operation. The Japs conducted harassing raids against our
bivouac areas with some success for a period of about a week. Our initial
plan had been adopted on the advice of other unit’s experienced in
jungle warfare. It called for complete immobility at night, with grenades
and bayonets as the only defense weapons. Gun crews were directed to fire
only in the event of a major attack. However, we found that, small parties
of Japs were able to filter into the battle areas and cause some casualties
without being seriously opposed.
“This situation was effectively corrected by using a close perimeter defense. Men occupying these perimeter lines were ordered to fire at known targets. Machine guns were so laid that final protective lines covered the perimeter. The nature of the terrain and the type of night tactics employed by the Japanese made the establishment of outposts for security purposes inadvisable as visibility was limited to a few feet from any given outpost. Two men occupied each foxhole, one remaining awake and alert to all activity in his vicinity. Within the perimeter, machetes were used from the foxholes against any enemy raiders who were able to penetrate. This system effectively discouraged night raids.
On the March “March security adhered to established doctrine except that distances between the elements of the column were greatly reduced. Extremely limited visibility and the difficulty of moving through the jungle off the trails nearly always prevented close-in security detachments.”
Aggressive Action, Flexible Plans Report of 43d Division, New Georgia: “Aggressive action is necessary. Never relax the pressure. Maneuver of small units at the risk of temporary loss of communications is important. Plans and orders must be so flexible as to permit prompt maneuver change.
Feeding the Troops “The serving of any hot meals in
jungle fighting is often impracticable. A hot drink or hot soup serves the
same purpose and is much more within the realm of possibility.
“An issue of two canteens per man relieves the water problem a lot in jungle operations.”
Counterintelligence First Marine Division, Guadalcanal: “Due to the amount of vital information we had taken from captured Japanese message centers we decided at once that, we wouldn’t make the same mistake. Command post installations were usually in the foxhole of the unit commander. Papers of possible value to the enemy were destroyed or sent to the rear.”
Patrolling in the Jungle An officer with considerable experience
in jungle patrolling gives this advice:
“Patrols are most likely to give away their presence in an area by their footprints.
“Shine from the smallest metal surface, such as a belt buckle, or a watch, must be avoided. A luminous watch constitutes a real danger.
“A white skin is most conspicuous, and the practice of some patrol members marching stripped to the waist is inviting trouble.
“Dark clothing is essential. “Any noise, such as talking, coughing, spitting, etc., has to be treated as the greatest of all dangers.
“A man on patrol must learn to move silently, making every possible use of natural cover.”
Don’t Forget the “Where”! Colonel Liversedge, U. S. Marine Corps, New Georgia: In many cases patrol leaders were able to report what they saw, but not where it was seen. In general, such information was valueless as locations could not be plotted on a map or aerial photo. This should be emphasized in training programs and is worth a special directive.”
----or the “What”! Seventh Army Report, Sicily: “Men must be taught to recognize what they see when they are scanning the landscape. Unless properly trained they will not recognize enemy gun emplacements, strong points, and machine-gun nests.”
Patrol Tips Staff Sergeant Richard E. Deland, Infantry,
Sicily: “I was not taught to observe properly nor how to use the
“Position and camouflage are more important than I learned in the States. In training bear down on cover and concealment; bear down on the avoidance of the blundering approach, on patrols, on fire and maneuver-which are equally important.
“Battles move slowly; patrols can’t dash about.
“My battalion, instead of using ‘Scouts Out,’ used a full squad in wedge formation to do the job.”
Size of Patrols Lieutenant Colonel W. A. Walker, Tank Destroyer Battalion Commander, Tunisia: “Many men were lost in Tunisia by using squad patrols. The Germans used stronger patrols and just gobbled them up. A patrol should be either a sneak patrol, small enough to escape detection, or a combat patrol, large enough to fight its way out of difficulty. Never allow one man to go out alone.
Say It With Pictures! “The value of hasty sketches illustrating reconnaissance reports was proved many times during this campaign, but it is difficult to get such sketches out of untrained personnel. All reconnaissance personnel should receive sketching training.”
Japanese Pillboxes Lieutenant Colonel McCormick, Field Artillery, New Georgia: “In most cases pillboxes were built in two decks to permit the occupants to drop through a trap door during heavy shelling. They were used for heavy-weapons firing and had communication trenches which concealed light machine guns protecting the pillboxes. All were mutually supporting and very well concealed.”
Superman Myth Exploded Operations Report, 43d Division, New Georgia: “Our troops here came to regard the Superman stories about the Japanese as ridiculous. The Jap is tricky but not so tricky as many have been led to believe. He is not nearly so ingenious or adaptable as the average American, and the truth of the matter is he’s afraid of us, of our artillery, and of our sea and air power. Our troops must learn this and never forget, it.
Jap Trap “We soon learned that. the Japanese permitted small leading elements of the column to proceed past their effectively camouflaged fortifications and would not open fire until our main body came along.”
Defensive Action Operation Report, 43d Division Arundel Island: “Our first contact with the enemy was made by patrols, which encountered small groups of Japs equipped with automatic weapons. Their resistance consisted of a fluid delaying action and, during the early phases, could not be effectively fixed. After a short skirmish the Japs would withdraw several hundred yards and re-establish their temporary defense. The denseness of the jungle made such a defense quite effective in delaying our progress.”
Vine Entanglements Colonel Liversedge, U. S. Marine Corps,
New Georgia: “The Japanese used a prickly native vine for entanglements.
The vines were interwoven and used to protect defensive positions in lieu
of barbed wire. Results were effective and impeded attack. Vines had to be
cut before progress could be made.
“Our own troops should be instructed in. the use of these vines as a means of improvisation when wire is not, available.”
Effect of Jungle on Infantry Technique Colonel
H. H. Haney, Infantry Regimental Commander; NEW GUINEA: “Our infantry
doctrines still hold. We do have to cut our cloth a bit differently in the
jungle. The steep hills and the dense vegetation and swamps tend to ‘canalize’ our
advance. Flank security is much reduced. It is difficult to send units more
than a few hundred yards to a flank and maintain contact with the& It
is next to impossible to have flank security patrolling abreast of a moving
column. If we tire to make any headway we have to risk exposed flanks.
“The terrain is difficult but determined troops can maneuver. The base of fire should be advanced along the ridges.”
Action Technique Colonel 0. P. Newman, Infantry Regimental Commander, NEW GUINEA: “The outstanding factor in the rapid advance of my regiment was the aggressive action of the advance guard. Upon contacting the enemy the point would hit to the front and a base of fire was immediately built up on the point by the remainder of that platoon. The following platoon moved to the flank at once, always on the uphill side. This flanking action war continued by the commander of the leading company and, if necessary, by the leading battalion commander, who would send the next following company even farther to the flank to hit behind the Jap resistance.”
COMMENT: The foregoing quotations emphasize the fact that regardless of terrain or other conditions our basic infantry doctrines are sound. Success is attained by modifying technique to fit the special conditions encountered. Experiences in all theaters of operation confirm this.
Skill Saves Lives Lieutenant General Walter
Krueger, Sixth Amy, Report on Operations, NEW GUINEA and NEW
BRITAIN: “The assault phase of each landing operation was relatively
short. In every case this phase was followed by a long period devoted almost
entirely to patrol activities against scattered and isolated enemy groups.
Lack of skill in patrolling accounted for many casualties among our troops.
“Certain units, well schooled in patrolling by previous experience or intensive training given by experienced commanders, sent out patrols which intercepted and destroyed enemy groups, frequently without the loss of a single man. Other units with the same opportunities but lacking experience or proper training sent out patrols which walked into hostile ambushes or exhausted themselves in long and fruitless expeditions through the jungle.
The Need for Training “The operations amply illustrated the need for thorough training of units and individuals in scouting and patrolling. They also proved, however, that there is no substitute for experience. It is therefore logical that in addition to training, every opportunity should be taken to give our troops actual experience in scouting and patrolling against the enemy. During the later stages of operations, when activities against the enemy are limited to patrolling, troops that have conducted the initial operation could be replaced insofar as practicable by troops which have arrived more recently in the theater and have not been in combat against the enemy.”
Ambush Patrols A most popular type of patrol in the jungle warfare of the South Pacific is the ambush patrol sent out with the mission of disrupting Japanese patrol activities. In addition every effort is made to bring in prisoners for intelligence purposes. Colonel Crump Garvin, Infantry Regimental Commander, BOUGAINVILLE, comments as follows: “The first requisite of a successful ambush is thorough preparation down to the smallest detail. Be sure that the equipment of each man is as complete as possible and in good condition.
Preliminary Reconnaissance “A detailed reconnaissance
should be made of the area before an ambush patrol is sent out. When the men
are briefed a rendezvous known to all patrol members is selected. The
party is guided to the appointed place by a member of the previous reconnaissance
party who knows the exact location selected for the ambush.
“Don’t waste time and energy setting an ambush in a location that merely might see enemy activity. Look for definite evidence of recent enemy use in a location where there will be undoubted contact with enemy forces. This will prevent your men from becoming restless and ‘triggerhappy’ since they have something real to occupy their minds.
“Officers leading ambush patrols must possess a high degree of courage and resolution. Men on ambush duty are prone to allow their imaginations to run away with than. They harbor thoughts that the enemy is attempting to surround them, cut than off, and that they are ‘sticking their necks out.’ Leaders must take definite steps to counteract such reactions. “Men on Ambush Patrol Are Prone To Let Their Imaginations Run Away With Them.”
Nipping the Nips “Two ambush patrols we sent out were
placed in excellent ambush locations by an experienced lieutenant who knew
the country, Japanese habits, and the trails used by the enemy. After putting
the groups in position he returned to the regiment as ordered.
“The third day both groups returned reporting the presence of large numbers of Japanese, which had caused them to withdraw from the ambush positions to a hidden bivouac where they remained for 2 days. Not a shot had been fired at the enemy. The leaders stated that they didn’t fire upon the enemy because they thought there were Japs all around’ them, and they were afraid that fire would disclose their presence and the Japs might attempt to cut them off. “These weak leaders were immediately sent out again under an experienced patrol commander to demonstrate that a group of men can remain close to the enemy and pick them off by stealth and patience if the group has nerve and confidence in itself.”
Sniper Selection and Training Lieutenant Raymond H. Ross,
Infantry, BOUGANVILLE: “When selecting men to be trained as snipers,
especial care must be taken to obtain individuals capable of acting on their
own. This means steady nerves, physical strength and agility, patience and
judgment. Above all they must possess good eyesight and be natural marksmen.
“In training one particular group of snipers, I made an extremely difficult ‘snap’ course with targets neatly camouflaged and concealed. The last phase was stalking. I placed two men 100 yards apart, indicated a direction of advance, and limited them to 30 yards front. The first one to see his opponent would ‘snap shoot’ if necessary. However, if he was sure he was not seen, he would take cover and wait for an accurate well-aimed shot. Then I worked groups of five men against five.
“The competition was keen and sometimes the men were practically face to face before seeing or hearing each other. I believe this is one of the best ways to train snipers, scouts, and even riflemen. It is both realistic and interesting and develops quick thinking as well as seeing and hearing.
Lessons from Experience “Our experience in patrol work
has taught many things. Some of the mores important are:
“Carry three canteens, two on your belt and one in the pack.
“Leave the packs concealed in a probable bivouac site in rear of area of your intended operations.
“Take a dry pair of heavy wool socks, a jungle sweater, and a pair of gloves. These should be kept in the rubberized food containers.
“When carrying ‘K’ rations, remove the box and carry only the necessary food. The box adds too much weight and waste.
“The medical jungle kit is indispensable. Have one for every two men.
“Paint all rifles olive drab.
“Rifles can be kept perfectly dry at night by placing them on sticks several inches off the ground and covering them with banana leaves.
“Cough and sneezes can be muffled by placing the cap over the mouth. This should be practiced in everyday training so that it becomes a habit.
Choosing Bivouac Area “The patrol bivouac area should be carefully selected at least 300 yards from trail or stream and preferably on high ground. Reconnoiter in all directions at least 400 yards to insure safety. Allow the men to make themselves as comfortable as possible. Before leaving the area, minimize all traces of your presence. The stumps and butt ends of saplings and plants which have been cut for shelters can be smeared with dirt to make them less conspicuous and destroy the fresh-cut’ appearance.”
ALWAYS SEARCH enemy dead and his abandoned vehicles and positions for unit
WHEN ON THE MARCH the assistant driver’s seat is not a bed. Stay awake and help your driver.
GRENADES are more useful than rifles in patrol work.
The Reconnaissance Troop in the Jungle Colonel Marion Carson, Observer, SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA: “These notes cover the experiences of a divisional reconnaissance troop which had been in action over a period of 2 months. It was employed solely on reconnaissance missions and not used for security purposes.
Types of Operations “The troop was employed in three major types of
(I) “The reconnaissance of small islands and of beach localities of larger islands. Each of these missions constituted a small landing operation. Their object was to determine if enemy forms were present and if so his strength, composition, and disposition. The normal strength of these patrols was one platoon. On occasion they were accompanied by artillery personnel reconnoitering for battery positions.
(2) “Extensive reconnaissance by small patrols (7 to 12 men) to determine
location and extent of enemy main battle positions and his routes of withdrawal.
Patrols operated dismounted except for water transportation along the coast
and up the larger streams. Natives were used extensively as guides, both on
trails and across country. They also enlisted the aid of other natives in definitely
locating enemy groups and reporting their movements.
(3) “As enemy strength increased in certain localities it became necessary to employ strong combat patrols which in turn established trail watching posts. While their primary mission remained surveillance of the enemy, they were prepared to fight to prevent the enemy forces reaching the coast and escaping by water.
Local Security “It was highly important that all personnel
be thoroughly conversant with local security methods. Small trait-watching
patrols would always have at least one soldier and one native guide on the
alert. Larger observation patrols in static positions would utilize trail watchers
connected to the platoon leader by sound-powered telephone. During daylight
smaller patrols searched through assigned areas. Moving patrols were seldom
used at night, security being provided by standing double sentries.
Trait Formation “In movement, patrols of a platoon or less were usually divided into a point, main body, and a rear point. The point always consisted of two men – usually the patrol leader and: one enlisted man. Experienced leaders stressed the importance of having the two members of the point move along opposite sides of the trail, practically abreast, and observe the jungle to the front on the far side of the trail, rather than on their own side. Numerous instances occurred when one member of the point saw a lone enemy soldier about to kill the other member and shot the Jap first.
“The advance of the point was slow and deliberate unless the time element was important. At each bend of the trail and at each crest there was at least a momentary halt for orientation, general observation, and the issuance of any necessary orders, The main body followed the point at about the limit of visibility (usually 10 to 25 yards) It moved in a column of troopers with about 5 yards distance between individuals. The rear point, also consisting of two men, one being the assistant patrol leader, followed the main body at almost the limit of visibility.
Weapons and Equipment “Reconnaissance platoons were
armed with submachine guns, carbines, and Ml rifles. The shorter weapons (submachine
gun and carbine) were preferred by small patrols as they were easier to carry
and aim in the jungle growth. Large patrols remaining in one locality for a
considerable period frequently employed the light machine guns for local security.
“Boats of various types were used constantly, generally LCV’s or native outrigger canoes. The use of the latter became so general that they received the local designation of LCO (landing craft, outrigger).
Use of Natives “An outstanding feature of the work
of this reconnaissance troop was the extensive employment of natives in all
types of reconnaissance.
“At first because oft the tack of knowledge of the language and habits of native personnel it was necessary to have a member of the ANGAU (AUSTRALIAN NEW GUINEA Administrative Unit) accompany all patrols using natives. However, both officers and enlisted men soon learned the language and gained the confidence of the natives to such an extent that the need for ANGAU personnel was exceptional.
Results “The efficiency of this unit is evidenced by the fact that while missions were successfully accomplished the casualties were very light. The troop lost 6 men killed and 14 wounded in one landing, hut suffered no other casualties during the 2 months period of active operations.”
Fire Teams 3d Marine Regiment, Report of Operations, BOUGAINVILLE: “The
basis of all small patrols was generally the ‘four-man fire team’ (three
riflemen and one automatic rifleman) in either a wedge or box formation. For
example, a reconnaissance patrol might form a wedge or box of wedges of four
men each with the leader of each team in the center. In combat, when contact
was made by one of these teams with the enemy, the idea was that the automatic
rifleman would cover the target with fire, one rifleman would protect the automatic
rifleman, and the other two would move in immediately to outflank the target.
“The speed of reaction of the team generally measured the degree of success of the attack. An important feature of the attack maneuver was that the pair of flankers moved on the inside of their formations so that their line of fire would be away from other fire teams in the formation.”
COMMENT: The Marines have experimented extensively with this four-man fire team. It is nothing more or less than a small-unit application of the tactical principle of fire and movement. The present squad organization of the Marines contains three of these teams.
Organizing Night Security 3d Marine Regiment, Report of Operations, BOUCAINVILLE: “It is noteworthy that in the defense, each unit, even the squad established itself so as to provide all around security during darkness. This principle was justified by the results in repulsing Japanese attempts to raid our positions. On the first night of the landing the necessity of maintaining close security, even in the battalion command post, was proved most forcibly when it became necessary for the battalion commander and his executive officer to assist in repulsing, with knives, the attack of a Japanese patrol which had successfully passed through our lines and killed one man and wounded another before anyone was aware of their presence.
“In organizing the area defense all automatic weapons were sited on fixed fire lines coordinated with adjacent units. However, it was a standing rule that weapons never be fired at night except to repulse a major night attack. In order to safeguard personnel and to avoid disclosing the position of -automatic weapons only knives and bayonets were used to take cave of small infiltrating parties.
All Telephones Manned “One feature of night defense which proved extremely important and useful was the system of communications set up within the battalion. Each platoon command post and company command post was connected by telephone. All telephones were on an open circuit and connected so that any message passed was heard by all. It was required that every telephone be manned continuously from dark to daylight obviating the necessity of ringing. Therefore, whenever anything occurred during the night all leaders within the battalion were instantly acquainted with the situation.”
Curing “Trigger Jitters” Lieutenant General
Walter Krueger, Sixth Army, Report on Operations, NEW GUINEA and NEW
BRITAIN: “At AMWE and SAIDOR unnecessary casualties resulted from promiscuous
firing by nervous troops, particularly, at night. This action is characteristic
of inexperienced troops and is generally referred to as ‘trigger happiness.’ This
condition was not as noticeable at CAPE CLOUCESTER probably due to the general
policy of halting offensive action sufficiently early in the afternoon tom
permit thorough organization of a defensive bivouac before darkness. Uncontrolled
fire at night may be reduced by the following measures:
“Have the men comb the brush and search the trees of the bivouac area while it is still daylight. This will tend to convince the troops that there is no enemy present.
“Require each individual to become thoroughly familiar with the characteristics of his own position and with the location of friendly troops in his immediate vicinity.
“Make adequate use of barbed wire, booby traps, antipersonnel mines, and trip wires to cover circumference of bivouac and likely avenues of approach.
“Insist on thorough training in fire discipline.”
COMMENT: A sharp distinction must be drawn between the promiscuous
firing of nervous or inexperienced personnel and covering fire by controlled
advancing troops. Many reports have been received which have emphasized the
difficulties of fire management, particularly laxly of mea-covering fires.
The tendency of the American
infantryman to fire only at a visible target has sometimes permitted enemy small-arms fire from concealed positions to continue unchecked.
Hold Your Position XIV Corps, Lessons Learned at BOUGAINVILLE: “During
all our training we had emphasized the doctrine of a battle position to be
held at all costs. This paid off with large dividends during the recent Japanese
attacks on our BOUGAINVILLE beachhead. Infiltrating Japanese would isolate
pillboxes, but failed to terrify the occupants or cause a withdrawal. These
isolated pillboxes, held by determined individuals, provided the principal
supporting fires for subsequent counterattacks.
“Failure to reduce these defensive works forced the enemy to dig in on disadvantageous ground, and further, they prevented biro front withdrawing or shifting his position during daylight. Platoon leaders directed the actions of pillboxes rather than of squads. The three to five men in each emplacement worked as a unit under the command of the senior within the box.”
Infiltration Report from USAFFE BOARD, SWPA: “Night attacks by the Japanese are the rule rather than the exception. Invariably, they will attempt to infiltrate our lines at night to attack artillery positions and disrupt communications. On MANUS ISLAND our ammunition carriers found Japs walking beside them between the gun positions and the ammunition dump. One officer sleeping in a hammock within the defensive perimeter was hacked to death by infiltrating Japanese.
Warning Devices “If possible, sufficient barbed wire
should be brought in on D-day to enable troops to install at least a single
apron around the defense perimeter, thus greatly reducing surprise by infiltration,
Tin cans hung from a string tied to the wire will give sufficient warning of
approach of the enemy. Booby traps of any sort placed at least 35 yards outside
of the defense perimeter are effective. It has been found that such measures
reduce promiscuous night firing by our troops and allow them to get more rest.
“A Field Artillery Battalion took the metallic ends of cloverleaf ammunition bundles, minus the containers, bolted them together with the long center bolt, and strewed them at random over an area about 10 yards in depth and 13 to 20 yards in front of the guns. Approaching enemy tripped over these pieces of metal, giving our troops adequate warning of their presence.
“Infiltration of enemy can be greatly reduced by careful coordination in establishing defensive perimeters. This alone will prevent many casualties."
Use Alternate Positions Second Lieutenant L. M. Standridge, Platoon Lender, Infantry Weapons Company, 43rd Division, SWPA: “The Japanese go to great trouble to single out and destroy machine guns. As a platoon moved forward, the Japanese would generally pull back, leaving observers for the purpose of determining the location of the machine guns. Because of these observers, it was impossible to keep the machine-gun emplacements from being located. To guard against attacks by Japanese patrols after dark, we would set up the machine gun at one place, and then immediately after dark the gun would be moved to another prepared location. When the Japanese would attack the position during the night they would encounter only riflemen and would not succeed in destroying the object of their attack.”
Ambush in the Jungle From a Parachute Regiment,
NOEMFOOR ISLAND, comes this account of how an alert patrol leader foiled a
“Captain Smith’s patrol, a reinforced platoon, had marched about 2,000 yards when they encountered three unarmed enemy who indicated a desire to Surrender. When the rear scout of the patrol took cover, the Japs ran into the bush, whereupon the patrol leader immediately became suspicious, He sent a reconnaissance party about 75 yards to the front. This party ran into Nambu machine-gun and rifle fire. At the same time the rear of ~the column was fired on by heavy machine guns and riflemen.
“The patrol was thrown into all-around defense and ordered to dig in. The Japs kept up heavy intermittent but ineffective fire from 1700 to about 2000.
“At about 2000 they started dropping grenades and more fire into the area and kept it up until midnight. During the night they attempted to infiltrate the position without success. At daybreak they withdrew after firing several machine-gun bursts to cover their withdrawal. The patrol then returned to the CP without further incident.
“The patrol had two killed and one wounded and these in the initial phase of the action. Captain Smith estimated that he was surrounded by about 100 Japs. He also noticed that the Nip fire was on a fixed line but too high to be effective. Twenty-one Japs were killed in this action.”
Immediate actions by the patrol leader in this case probably saved the patrol many casualties. Jungle patrols regardless of their size must take such formation that they can protect themselves immediately from attack. Of course the idea is always to find the enemy before he finds you but as this is not always possible in the jungle, adopt a formation that will minimize the effect of surprise attack from any direction.
Jungle Patrol Hints Captain John G. Carter, S-2, 112th
Cavalry, SWPA: “Scouting became a fine art in my unit. Two factors
contributed to our success; the first was religious observance of the rules
laid down in the field manual ‘Scouting and Patrolling’; and
the second was a set of rules we worked out based on jungle conditions. They
are as follows:
“Friendly natives are invaluable’ as scouts. Send one or more with the patrol when possible. School all junior officers so that they can understand and can make themselves understood by the natives.
“When an officer goes out on patrol with enlisted men, he should be the lead man at least half the time, rotating with the enlisted men.
“Two submachine guns and two rifles or carbines provide a good distribution of arms for a four-man patrol, which is the size we prefer. A submachine gun should always lead.
“A four-man patrol returning from a mission can often facilitate its withdrawal under enemy pressure by engaging the enemy with brief, well-aimed fire. The patrol should then break contact and return.
“It must be proved by demonstration to every man who is likely to do reconnaissance patrolling that the jungle is friendly and will help him on his mission.”
He Learned the Hard Way An Infantry Platoon Leader of
the Americal Division, in discussing ambush tactics by patrols states: “We
had an outpost of five Japs completely surrounded by our patrol of 69 men.
They were armed but not aware of us. We covered them with three BAR’s
and three rifles, intending to shoot their legs from under them on my signal
in order to, take them prisoner. Meanwhile we placed four more BAR’s
covering the front and the right and left flanks. The TOROXINA RIVER was
to our rear, which was protected by riflemen. We held three BAR’s in
“This all-around defense looked good; we were sure of success. I trained my sights on the buttocks of a Jap officer who was sitting on the ground with a rifle across his lap. I whistled sharply and shot and wounded him as he turned his head. The BAR’s opened fire, killing three and wounding one, who died later on the stretcher going in. The wounded officer feigned death but charged as I approached. One squirt of a BAR ripped him open and felled him for keeps. The stretcher bearers were called up to remove the wounded Jap and I gave orders to pull out.
“Then disaster struck. Three light machine guns opened up from our direct front, wounding three men immediately. Two who were slightly wounded got out, but the other was hit in the abdomen and pinned down by grazing fire. Several new men had jumped into foxholes and were crouched so low they could not see out. Everyone made it back to safety except the one wounded man and my runner, who could not be found and did not answer our calls. There was so much confusion that checking the men was difficult.
“I used my 60.mm mortar to silence the Nip’s machine guns, and then with our BAR’s and rifles built up a strong fire line. Under heavy covering fire, the wounded man was rescued and placed on a stretcher. He bled profusely and died as we returned to our lines. It was then discovered that four other men were missing; however, with the exception of one they turned up the next day. From this incident I learned to push security out as far as possible before striking, even when we have the ambushed force surrounded.”
These methods were stressed by the 1st Infantry in reports of their
SANSAPOR experiences: “When encountering enemy on the move, our combat
patrols had more success and suffered fewer casualties by opening fire and
rushing through than by trying to take cover and envelop the enemy group.
“We have, learned to inspect foliage closely. Broken leaves, twigs, etc., often indicate when and in what direction the enemy has passed and how many were in the group.
“Patrols should not become too dependent, upon native guides. They should learn in the beginning to rely upon their own ability to maintain direction and ferret out the enemy. Native guides should be used only to supplement their own information and ability.
“Excessive ammunition only tires the men and hampers their movements. One bandoleer of ammunition is ample for the normal mission here. BAR men make makeshift suspenders to ease the weight of the belts from their hips. Officers’ field suspenders serve the same purpose excellently.”
1st Infantry Headquarters in the SOUTHWEST PACIFIC lists the most
common errors made by patrols operating in jungle:
a. Patrols have tried to reach objectives too quickly, moving too rapidly through the brush and needlessly endangering themselves.
“b. Intermediate objectives and assembly points have not been properly established. These should be well-defined terrain features along the route of advance. Use them as rallying points for reorganizing, for checking on casualties, and for issuing supplementary instructions.
“c. Patrols have carried too many rations and then, by throwing away the excess, have revealed their presence and routes. They have left debris along trails, at resting places, and in bivouacs. All indications of patrol activity should be obliterated; any equipment which must be abandoned should be buried and camouflaged.
‘“d., Members of patrols have smoked while on patrol duty; this has in many cases proved fatal.
“e. Patrol reports have often been exaggerations of actual happenings. Commanders or interrogators (intelligence officers) must question patrol members in order to obtain true facts.
“f. Briefings of patrols have been held in exposed positions such as OP’s.
“g. Some members of patrols have lacked alertness and have overlooked obvious signs of enemy movement. Foliage cuttings indicate, by the amount of sap oozing from .the fracture or cut, the probable length of time since the enemy passed by. Yellow telephone wires always lead to Jap establishments. The Japs sometimes string vines between trees and shrubs to mark the way to some installation when these are encountered, both wire aid vine should be cut.
“h. Patrols who encounter the enemy have frequently forgotten the six f’s (finding, fixing, fighting, fending, fooling, finishing) and the five elements of offensive combat (finding force, holding force, supporting fire, maneuvering force, and the reserve).
“i. Patrols have neglected to carry individual medical kits or have not familiarized themselves with the contents of the kits.
“j. Patrols have turned in reports with the mere statement that results were negative. Reports should enumerate negative features.
“k. Patrols have traveled too much on trails. Japs use trails as fire lanes and ambushes. Avoid travel on trails in territory known to be hostile.”