British battle tactics by 1942Malaya

Before the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the Japanese Army studied the British battle tactics. Right from the start of their landing in Kota Bahru, they seemed to be able to read the British strategies.

Battles after battles, the british were hoodwinked by their counter measures. It's no surprise that the British were predictable and the Japanese seemed think faster in the heat of battle. Below are some Japanese documents on the British.


a. General Rules

(1) Although the English army has some mechanical mobility, in general, it does not have much maneuverability. Therefore a quick decisive battle should be sought by flanking and encirclement.

(2) Since determined action is generally better than prudence, we should avail ourselves of the enemy's hesitation in completing his preparation to gain the initiative.

(3) We must gain victory by taking the offensive and seizing the initiative, and overcoming the enemy.

(4) Since their front is generally strong and the distribution of firepower especially thorough there, we should strive to operate on their rear and take advantage of surprise. Since they are unskilled in night fighting, we should make extensive use of it.

(5) As they have great numbers of vehicles and their use of them is skillful, we must make our dispositions carefully so as to limit use of these vehicles. It is essential to be on the alert for motorized flanking and encircling movements.

(6) They definitely use gas; therefore, antigas measures are essential.

b. Attack

(1) They are generally cautious in attacking, and in planned attacks they have a tendency to use positional warfare and make exhaustive reconnaissance and preparations. We should strengthen our position more and more while they are getting ready, and at the same time, by stratagem, try to take the offensive.

(2) In attack, they endeavor to encircle or break through. However, as they are cautious when carrying out an encirclement, we should strive to utilize our maneuverability, further encircle the enemy's encircling force, and fight a decisive action at a point where the enemy does not expect it.

Do not use a passive defense if you can help it, as it has the disadvantage of making it easy for the British to build up their strong firepower. On the defensive, choose a position where the front line will not be under the enemy's fire.

(3) Although they realize the necessity of a charge, particularly in gaining the final decision in a conflict, they do not concern themselves much about its strength, but rather strengthen their firepower and their positions. The infantry weapons for hand-to-hand fighting are few, and automatic weapons are many. The infantry just follow the curtain of fire and occupy the ground. For this reason, it is necessary to plan to split them by means of artillery and machine-gun fire and isolate the infantry. Then by taking advantage of a good opportunity, we can counterattack. It is necessary to carry the battle out of the area selected by him so as to not come under the concentrated fire of the enemy artillery and to prevent his pouring fire on the charging infantry.

It is especially necessary, when our forces are weak, to rely on the bayonet against the enemy troops who penetrate our positions, and to be prepared to drive them back by this means in the final melee.

(4) They are also over-cautious in selecting the main objective of their attack in a meeting engagement, and ordinarily do so after the battle has begun and they have detailed reports of the enemy's dispositions and strength. For this reason, it is essential to bring about, by swift and resolute action, a decisive battle before the enemy's preparations are completed.

c. Defense

(1) Because they often utilize an active defense, it is necessary to dispose your troops carefully, and at the same time, so that they will not discover in this disposition a good opportunity, you must make them abandon their aggressive plans by fierce and resolute attacks.

(2) They generally do not give much consideration to their flanks and make their front strong; therefore, it is best that we carry out encircling movements.

(3) As they spend a great deal of time on their defensive preparations, it is essential to attack swiftly in open warfare and not give them any time to spare. Also, as they sometimes do not make a thorough disposition of troops so that they can move them to suit the situation, it is necessary to attack unexpectedly and swiftly and prevent their making suitable dispositions.

(4) Their firepower, particularly that of the artillery and machine guns, is disposed densely in front of their position, and therefore it is, of course, necessary to choose a deployment which utilizes the terrain and to move quickly. You must particularly pay heed to secrecy and the concealment of your movements and utilize darkness and smoke screens.

(5) Since they hold out large reserves, particularly mobile reserves, you must endeavor to keep your plan hidden and take advantage of surprise. Also, you must use strong striking forces and break through the enemy's lines at one stroke.

(6) When their dispositions are in great depth, to break through, you must also organize in depth and break through the position at one stroke. This is especially necessary to prevent their counterattacking with their mobile reserves and breaking up the attack. To cope with this situation, you must press home the attack with superior force and crush them. Even if there is a deep and somewhat flexible resistance in front of their main position, attack this with the necessary strength, but seek to keep your forces from getting mixed and to keep losses down.

(7) Although the artillery is under a unified command, it has various sorts of duties and is kept mobile; you can expect fire almost anywhere. For this reason, you must attack in strength and, using concentrated fire to the fullest, try to neutralize their guns.

(8) Where the position, especially a position in the rear, is established in depth, and a mobile reserve is used, particularly when a breakthrough is countered by mobile artillery, the coordination of the infantry and artillery, for the action after the penetration of the enemy's position must be very carefully planned.

(9) When they discover the attacker's penetration, they call down concentrated fire on it. Therefore, the attacker must make the penetration difficult to observe; and his artillery must take appropriate measures to neutralize this fire.

(10) They use tanks to good advantage; and measures against them are essential.

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