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Remembered Today:

Japanese tactics

Old Tom

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This topic arises from a remark in Max Hastings' Catastrophe and I trust it is not out of order in this forum. On page 414 Sir Max says that Japan declared war in September 1915 for explicit territorial gains and that with modest British help attacked and captured Tsingtao on the Chinese coast and adds 'displaying an energy and tactical ingenuity their Western allies might profitably have emulated'

A search indicates a number of references to Tsingtao, often in the context of SMS Emden, and a reference to the 29th Division. But, as far as I can see not addressing this tactical ingenuity. Equally did this ingenuity apply to the capture of Tsingtao (perhaps a parallel with their capture of Singapore in WW2), or to the possible application on the Western Front, or indeed, at Gallipoli .What does anyone think?

Old Tom

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Possibly the tactical ingenuity is attacking in September 1914 but not declaring war until Sept 1915 as the OP suggests :whistle:

H C O'Neill describes the Japanese as making significant use of aircraft to attack German shipping and artillery positions and infantry attacks well coordinated with bombardment from the sea (provided by HMS Triumph)

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Re The Naval Review article - from pages 322 - 324

“The landing of the latter in Laoshan bay commenced on September 18th, and continued uninterruptedly until practical completion (with the exception of the heaviest guns) on the 29th September... … … …

… … … … A broad flat shelving beach with a fair rise and fall of tide and deep water close to, sheltered from the north and west. A splendid landing place with plenty of inshore room for parking guns, exercising horses, storing ammunition and fodder, and laying sidings for light railway. A very fair road (as roads go in China) leads inland to the mountain passes. The first pier to be built was a floating one by the Navy, and this lasted well until heavy seas came in on October 16th and 17th, but by that time it had served its purpose. Two pile piers were at this date under construction for landing the heavy howitzers, etc. Flat-bottomed sampans were mostly used for landing purposes, carrying 15 to 20 men or 6 horses, which latter were made to walk ashore when the sampan grounded. Large iron lighters were used for landing gun carriages, guns, stores, and railway material, the lighters being beached at high water and emptied at low. These same lighters carried the heavy guns and howitzers to the big pile piers, a special vessel fitted with a powerful crane lifting them from the transports into the lighters, whilst a wooden gantry erected at the end of one of the pile piers was the means of landing them, side tracks from the railway being laid up to the pier head. A vast number of Chinese were employed on all kinds of work, carrying stores and laying the railway; they appeared to take to the work with alacrity, as they also did in all the operations on which they were engaged inland.”

Regarding Gallipoli:

I don't think that the above circumstances or geography are comparable. The Japanese appear to have had plenty of time and the unmolested opportunity to build piers, light railways etc and to make use of a powerful crane. Also they seem to have had the co-operation of the local (Chinese) population.

One thing that does ring a bell however, is the reference to “Flat-bottomed sampans for landing purposes.” I have certainly seen a reference to this and to the regret expressed that this lesson was not learned from the Japanese experience. By the time of the Suvla operations of course, this defect or lack of suitable landing craft had been put right.

Reference above is made to the landing of heavy howitzers, and it was the German/Austrian heavy howitzers which achieved so much when used against the Belgian forts. The allies lacked these weapons at the Dardanelles and relied instead on naval [flat trajectory] gun fire, which proved much less effective against the Ottoman forts. It is notable that even where the Japanese used their naval guns, their ships appear to have been more usefully engineered; note the Suwo's guns have an elevation of 24° while the Triumph could only manage 18° (see pages328/9)

The Japanese appear to have had the right equipment, but they also enjoyed much more favourable circumstances and geography.



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I believe that the landing was essentially a naval operation. I suspect that Hastings is referring to the army's reduction of a well fortified complex of forts and trenches with many machine gun posts with relatively low casualties.

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