continues their series Combat
with this 10th title, Chindit versus Japanese Infantryman 1943-44
, CBT 10. Modelers of Chindits and Japanese subjects of the CBI should find this book a bonanza of reference and inspiration!
Authored by Jon Diamond and illustrated by Peter Dennis, this 80 page softcover features color battle scenes and innovative split-screen artwork, strategic and tactical, maps, plus expert analysis into the realities of infantry combat in Burma. Many first-hand accounts fill this book in the narrative of three battles between the Chindits and Japanese.
This work is available in Paperback, eBook (ePub), and eBook (PDF).
Leeches leapt from leaves upon the retreating British Army in Burma, adding to their misery while being driven back towards India by the unstoppable Japanese Army in 1942. British tactics and doctrine was impotent against the Japanese, who used infantry in Blitzkrieg tactics much like the Nazis employed tanks in Europe. While the conventional Commonwealth forces tried to rebuild their army in India, an unconventional British officer, Orde Wingate, found favor to create and deploy an unconventional Special Force for guerilla warfare against the Japanese. Special training and severe physical conditioning prepared the Commonwealth troops to make the jungle their ally instead of a terror. This small force took to the jungle in 1943, commencing a series of operations against the veteran Japanese 18th Division and other Japanese forces, strangling their supply lines and drawing forces away from their established objectives.
Thus the stage was set for war between a conventional army devoted to die for their emperor and an unconventional army trained to live to fight another day. Chindits were trained to penetrate deep into enemy territory with swiftly moving small units called “Columns”. Equipped with few heavy weapons, their job was to briefly attack Japanese Lines of Communications (LOC) and then melt back into the jungle to rendezvous for a march home. Japanese soldiers were in Burma as a garrison and to keep supplies from reaching China. They relied on offensive doctrine to annihilate enemy units with infantry backed by heavy weapons. Japanese infantry had established support whereas Chindits were on their own at first. Later, Chindits established strongholds behind Japanese lines and relied on air power for supply and firepower.
The first Chindit operation Longcloth
was a mixed bag for Chindit doctrine. They harried the Japanese, yet engaged in toe-to-toe gunfights and left wounded behind. The next operation, Operation Thursday
in 1944, used glider-borne troops to establish strongholds which the Japanese had to attack, within which landing fields were built for resupply and evacuation of the wounded. Airpower provided flying artillery. Despite their success, Chindits were subsequently squandered as conventional light infantry.
contentChindit verses Japanese Infantryman 1943-44
is told through 10 chapters and sections in 80 pages:
The Opposing Sides
Origins, recruitment and training
Combat doctrine and organization
Leadership, weapons and tactics
Communications, logistics and morale
Nankan Station 6 March 1943
Pagoda Hill 16-18 March 1944
Mogaung 2-12 June 1944
Lessons learned: the British
Lessons learned: the Japanese
Orders of Battle
The book is well organized and easy to read. Mr. Diamond writes in a clear manner and not only narrates and explains the subjects, he also populates the text with numerous excerpts from journals and books published by Allied and Japanese survivors.
…’about fifty yards square, an extraordinary melee took place, everyone shooting, bayoneting, kicking at everyone else, rather like an officers’ guest night’.
Another wrote :
Standing up, I shouted out ‘Charge’ in the approved Victorian manner, and ran down the hill with Bobbie (Sqn Ldr Robert Thompson) and two orderlies. Half of the South Staffords joined in. Then looking back I found a lot had not. So I told them to bloody well ‘Charge! What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ So they all charged, the machine-gunners, mortar teams, the officers – all who were on the hill. As we climbed Pagoda Hill, the Japs, entering into the spirit of the thing, got up and charged us.
Japanese soldiers recount their experiences, too:
At about [1000hrs] I was roused by the sentry’s alarm. Again seven or eight enemy soldiers [Chindits] came walking leisurely with rifles on shoulder straps. I knew that I should not let them escape into the jungle again … I aimed exactly at the waist of the man in front, so that even if he lay flat the bullets would hit the men in the rear … [I] pressed the trigger … the leading three men fell down one by one. I was impressed by the excellent performance of the Type 92 medium machine gun.
Also related is surviving Japanese infantryman Miyashita Susumu’s account of retreating through the jungle with two bullet wounds; how he treated his festering wounds is ghastly.
Twenty-five pages set the stage for three battles recounted in this book. I found it very interesting the dichotomy of the two military’s’ view of the infantryman, as well as the initial Japanese view of conducting large force operations in the jungle. The tactical and strategic situations are presented. Weapons and training are explained. It was surprising to learn the role of the bayonet for both armies. The next 40 pages recount the three battles examined in the text: Nankan Station; Pagoda Hill; Mogaung. Finally, analysis, lessons learned, aftermath and orders of battle fill out the remaining 10 pages. Two soldiers are profiled:
Lt-Col Nagahashi Jiroku, 18th Division, White City.
Maj John B. Jefferies, No. 142 Commando Group, Pagoda Hill.
photographs, artwork, graphics
Modelers of Chindits and Japanese subjects of the CBI should find this book a bonanza of reference and inspiration! The text is well supported by photographs, artwork, and graphics. The photos are a mixed lot in terms of quality taken from Allied and Japanese sources, including staged scenes, in-action shots, and situations casual and formal.
Most pages feature a photograph to support the text. Most are black and white although color photos are included of a Thompson submachine gun and a No. 2 ‘Lifebuoy’ flamethrower. Several of the photos are new to me including one a Japanese image that gave me some ideas for ersatz
equipment modifications. Other photos familiar to readers who have been reading about the CBI for a while, yet they have eye-opening new narratives, i.e., a well known image of "enlisted men" who are actually high ranking officers.
Several maps orient and demonstrate the battles to the reader :
Operations in northern and central Burma 1943-44, keyed to eight significant actions from 8 February 1943, to 12 June 1944.
No. 3 Column and I/55th Infantry at Nankan Station, 6 March 1943, keyed to 13 events. A sidebar adds more detail with Battlefield environment.
1st South Staffordshire and II/51st Infantry at Pagoda Hill, 16-18 March 1944, keyed with nine events, plus a descriptive Battlefield environment sidebar.
1st Lancashire Fusiliers and III/114th Infantry at Mogaung, 2-12 June 1944, keyed with 12 events (plus another Battlefield environment sidebar).
Detailed and dramatic color artwork enhances this book.
Corporal, No. 3 Column; Nankan Station, 6 March 1943: presented with 13 articles of uniform and kit (uniform and equipment).
Superior private, I/55th Infantry; Nankan Station, 6 March 1943: presented with 17 articles of uniform and kit.
Two-page battle scene: The fight at Pagoda Hill, showing Japanese infantry pouring out of a dugout after Lt Durant who, alone in the open, resisted with a broken revolver and a grenade.
Two-page battle scene: Assaulting the bridge, a unique split screen painting of a moment of the Chindit attack across Pinhmi Bridge, shown from the vantage points of the Chindits on the bridge and the Japanese on the heights.
Inside the title page is a table presenting the ranks of four militaries: British Army; Indian Army; Japanese; American.
Modelers should be inspired and educated by this book. It has many images to help improve modeling Allied and Axis subjects of the CBI. Original artwork of soldiers and battle scenes are excellent. Historians and gamers should benefit form the text, too.
There really isn't anything I will complain about in this book.
I have enjoyed Osprey's Combat series. The CBI and Pacific War are my main interests. The Chindits were a unique force and those are always interesting. Thus, this book combines the ingredients of a fascinating read. It did not disappoint me. Recommended.
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