The information contained in this section has been extracted from several translated Japanese
documents dealing with landing operations. Some of the statements come from enemy field
manuals, while others appear to be based on results of landing maneuvers. In connection
with this section, reference should be made to information previously published in the Intelligence
Bulletin and other M.I.D. publications on Japanese landing operations. For example,
Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 8, included a lengthy article which was
paraphrased from a translated enemy document titled "Amphibious Tactics Based on Experiences at Wake."
In the paragraphs which follow, the reader must bear in mind that he is reading Japanese
doctrine, some of which is experimental, and he must not confuse it with our own
doctrine on landing operations.
2. ACTION BEFORE LANDING
a. Selection of Landing Points
In selecting landing points, take into consideration the probability that hostile forces
have a lot of mechanized vehicles and an excellent network of roads and other means of
The landing points should be suitable for landing installations, and especially convenient for
the landing and subsequent advance of vehicles.
In landing on hostile coasts where breakers are anticipated, it is best to select one or two
alternate landing points because the actual condition of the surf may be different from that
which was expected. For example, we had expected large breakers at one of the points considered
for landing in the Philippines, but a close reconnaissance revealed that they were small. Therefore
we landed there the first day. Toward nightfall, the surf became rough, so we changed anchorage
and continued the landing operations at another point, where the surf was not heavy.
b. Reconnaissance of Landing Points
A thorough air reconnaissance of proposed landing points must be made by a competent officer
who is scheduled to participate in the landings. Also, air photos must be made and distributed
to each unit designated to take part in the landings. These photos must show views of the landing
points during high tide and also during low tide.
Reconnaissance of landing points from the sea must be carried out secretly and quickly. If
possible, this reconnaissance, with the aid of air photos, should determine passages and
points navigable by boat. Reconnaissance of coasts with unusual characteristics must be
continued, even after the first wave of troops has landed. This is especially true if the
first wave lands at high tide, because at low tide it may be necessary to change the route
of approach or even the landing point.
c. Selection of Time for Landings
Ordinarily, landing operations will start early enough to allow the front-line units to
reach shore at dawn. Where an attack by a superior air force, or an advance up a long
defile, is expected after landing, it may be necessary to start landings about midnight, so
that most of the personnel will be landed by dawn.
On shores where it is difficult to land at night, a daylight landing in force may be necessary.
3. ACTION DURING LANDING
a. Water and Terrain Difficulties
When the nature of the terrain around the landing point cannot be determined in advance, it
will be necessary to rely on a compass and navigational skill in landing. As much
information as possible should be gained from tide charts, air photos, and sailing directories.
If the characteristics of the coast necessitate the use of more than one landing
place, collapsible boats, ponton boats, rafts, and so forth will be used.
In seas where the current is swift and parts of the landing point are obscure, each
boat should carry a searchlight as a navigational aid. Preferably, an experienced
naval man should handle the searchlight.
b. Overcoming Resistance
It is fundamental that we gain as much surprise as possible in landing operations. Surprise
can sometimes be gained, at least for a time, by maneuvering the first wave of landing craft
or by approaching by a roundabout route.
In countering resistance by hostile forces, Army troops usually will handle the land
opposition, and the Navy will take care of the opposition on water. However, to handle
the destruction of small hostile boats and to give direct cover to the convoy, the
Navy generally depends on the D engineer regiment's armored boats and other
When landing on a coast directly defended by fortified positions, the fighting usually
begins with the arrival of the landing craft offshore. Under heavy fire from such land
positions, it is not only difficult, as a rule, to control units, but it is usually
impossible to carry out a planned attack. Therefore, officers of all ranks in
the front-line units must make the most thorough preparations to deliver a surprise
attack or to counter the hostile attack successfully. These first-line units must
strike hard against the. enemy's [United Nations] weak points, and advance resolutely to
the advance line agreed upon previously. They must also take advantage of deficiencies
in the hostile plan of fire and of any other weaknesses—and it must be clearly
remembered that the hostile forces will have many weak points.
(2) With Artillery
When artillery is firing from transports to cover landings, the divisional commander must
closely watch the progress of the landing units and give orders to fire at the right
time. Premature fire might seriously expose our plans.
To give direct support to the infantry in their battle near the water's edge, part of
the field artillery and mountain artillery is sometimes attached to the first-line infantry
and landed in the first echelon. This attached artillery is often given the task
of advancing into the hostile lines, immediately after landing, for the purpose of
neutralizing fire from loopholes of fortifications and of neutralizing the weapons
protecting the hostile flanks.
The artillery landed with the first echelon of infantry must at all costs follow the
first-line units as supporting weapons. Liaison with adjacent artillery units in the
forward area must be maintained so that the development of the artillery battle may
be coordinated and controlled.
The infantry commanders must give the accompanying artillery units any assistance
necessary for changing positions, or moving forward.
Immediately after landing, positions for artillery should be chosen near the point
of arrival. If possible, these positions should not be on a distinct coast line. They
must be well concealed from the air and easy to enter quickly. Also, these positions
should be inaccessible to hostile tanks.
(3) With Tanks
The first-line infantry commander decides, according to circumstances, whether he will
use attached tanks at the water's edge or in the battle after landing. Tanks to be used
at the water's edge are allotted to the first-line infantry battalions for close
cooperation in the infantry fighting. The battalion commanders must consider the
strength of the hostile forces, the amount of light, the nature of the terrain, and
especially the difficulties involved in landing tanks: and they must not hesitate to
allot these weapons to the different companies. Tanks to be used in the battle after
landing may be coordinated with the general plan, detached to subordinate units to
break through the main hostile defense lines, or used as the cores of the assault
The tanks cooperating in the battle at the water's edge must also reconnoiter the
hostile positions and the adjacent terrain. They will lose no opportunity to demolish
systematically all the wire entanglements, protections against flank attack, fortified
positions, lighting equipment, and so forth. The tank commander quickly takes
control of his subordinates, maintains close liaison with the infantry and artillery, and
warns against advancing recklessly and getting cut off from friendly forces. If
necessary, the commander stops the tanks and, after determining the location of our
troops and studying the "lay of the land," he may choose hostile localities easy for
maneuvers, or dead ground, and then wipe out objectives at close quarters.
The leaders of tank platoons must keep in touch with neighboring tanks and also with
their company commanders. They must see to it that no hitches occur in the fighting
Tanks landed during the daytime to assist the infantry fighting are given protective
cover by infantry and engineer troops who are fighting near the water's edge. The tanks
assemble quickly near the landing point and complete their battle preparations, such as
amending orders, removing waterproof equipment, and so forth. In cooperation with
the front-line infantry and artillery, these tanks neutralize hostile flank defenses
and small obstacles, take key points, and crush hostile counterattacking units.
(4) With Special Assault Detachments
If necessary, each company commander should organize and train in advance a special
assault detachment. These detachments are designed to neutralize fortifications and
to reduce centers of resistance, generally by attacking them from the rear. Personnel
of the detachments use automatic weapons, demolition bombs, armor-piercing bombs, hand
grenades, flame throwers, gas, smoke, and demolition charges placed in groups. Depending
upon circumstances, it may be possible to block loopholes and use flame throwers from
It is best to put all members of the special assault detachment in one landing boat so
that they may push forward to the infantry front line immediately after landing, and
carry out their duties with as much speed and secrecy as possible.
(5) By Use of Smoke
Smoke can be used so as to cover our operations, prevent illumination of our movements by
searchlights, cause deficiencies in the hostile plan of fire, or prevent the enemy [United
Nations] from paying attention to other developments.
How smoke will be used should be determined according to weather conditions (particularly
the direction of the wind), according to our plans, and according to the available
manpower and the quality and quantity of our smoke equipment. Smoke may be spread
directly in front of the hostile positions, it may be laid on the enemy [United Nations]
objectives, it may be used so as to split up the coast on which we land, or it may be
thrown as a curtain on the flanks and over the sea between the opposing forces.
When surrounding the hostile forces with smoke, it is sometimes a good idea to combine it
with toxic smoke.
The time for starting the emission of smoke depends on the strength and disposition of the
hostile forces, our situation and plans, the amount of light, and the speed and direction
of the wind. Necessary preparations must be made in advance so that smoke may be emitted as
soon as it is ordered.
At night do not use smoke merely to interfere with searchlights and artillery fire, but
use it for the first time when the advance ashore is obstructed.
With a moderate wind velocity, 10 to 20 smoke candles (floating type) thrown upon the
sea at the same time will form an effective smoke cover for about 1 1/2 miles.
When making a frontal or flanking smoke screen with the wind to your back, you can make the
smoke continuous by throwing two of the floating smoke candles on the sea at the same
time and providing an interval of about 20 yards between each pair of candles.
An armor-plated boat can carry about 150 floating smoke candles.
Four to seven men will be needed to carry out a smoke-emission assignment involving the
use of floating smoke candles and smoke generators.
First-line units which lay smoke screens in landing operations generally use grenade
dischargers, smoke shells, discharging smoke candles, smoke candles, and so forth. When
the wind is blowing toward the landing point at a speed greater than that of the
landing boats, lay a smoke screen spread out widely over the water. This can be done
if each boat emits smoke as it moves toward the landing point. As far as possible, each
boat moves in the thin part of the screen. If there is a cross wind or head wind, personnel
in the first boats to land should lay a smoke screen immediately, in front or to the
flank, in order to facilitate the landing operation.
Artillery and debarkation work units on transports lay smoke screens against important
parts of the hostile positions, such as observation posts, searchlights, and flank-defense
preparations. Depending upon the direction of the wind, it is sometimes advantageous to
use red smoke shells along with the other shells.
Eight smoke candles discharged from a boat with a simultaneous firing device will cover a
frontage of about 50 yards at the water's edge. When using the Type 99 discharging
smoke candles (old type of discharging smoke candle), fire them when about 350 yards
from the shore.
c. Communication and Liaison
The success of the landing operations largely depends upon the close cooperation between
the units landed for immediate combat and the debarkation work units. Therefore, the
liaison officers must do everything possible to unite the efforts of these units.
For liaison and communication, do not wait until a regular boat and communication
network is established, but use boats, radios, flag and light signals, and, when
the anchorage is close, lay a cable. It is also possible to use carrier pigeons.
Anchorage headquarters must immediately build a lookout tower for the purpose of
establishing command liaison with ships and boats at sea.
d. Duties of Debarkation Work Units
Immediately upon landing, the debarkation work units must make a quick reconnaissance of the
coast line and the traffic ashore, and then hastily construct on-the-spot landing
installations and open traffic routes.
For landing large or heavy equipment, it is necessary to choose the most suitable
places. These need not necessarily be the original landing points. When unloading
motor vehicles, gun carriages, and so forth, the work units must lay steel mats, wheel
mats, boards, and so forth. If possible, tractors, trucks, and sometimes tanks or
armored ears should be used. The work units must arrange for the necessary equipment
to carry out these operations. However, each regular combat unit must make plans for
its own unloading beforehand, and must prepare pulleys, nets, and other equipment
To reduce losses, it is necessary to spread out on the landing shore the various
installations, the troops, and the munitions and other supplies. Troops and matériel
should be disposed so as to prevent confusion. Each combat unit must keep in close touch
with the work unit for its landing sector. It is important, that each fighting unit
quickly move its men, horses, and vehicles away from the coast.
When the line of advance from the coast is limited, unloading installations easily
become crowded together. It is necessary to do everything possible to disperse these, and
to establish traffic routes parallel to the shore.
When possible, utilize to the fullest extent any native labor. Also seize any shipping
in the landing area and utilize it in the landing operations.
4. ACTION AFTER LANDING
The traffic control organization is assisted by sentries in the task of directing vehicles
and personnel from the landing points to the various unit combat sectors.
While the troops are embarking, the division commander must allot bicycles to the
infantry and engineer units which are to lead the advance, or to the reserves who
are to be thrown into the battle quickly at any opportunity to exploit success. At
the time of landing the division commander must lose no opportunity to let the
men have their bicycles. Depending upon circumstances, the bicycles are assembled
on the coast at the various landing points. The main object in using bicycles is
to supplement shortages in motor vehicles for long-range operations, especially
during pursuit, and to increase the division's mobility.
Each unit should be in position to summon its vehicles quickly from the landing area or
the vehicle-assembly point. Vehicles landed in the area of the division traffic-control
organization should first be collected at the assembly point before following the
unit to which they are allotted.
As a rule, vehicles—especially motor vehicles—should avoid advancing parallel
to each other or going in a reverse direction.
A vehicle repair center must be set up as the units move into action. To accomplish this, part
of the vehicle-repairing organization must be landed as quickly as possible.
Particularly for the sake of increasing our maneuverability, commanding officers of all ranks
should pay attention to achieving quick capture of hostile communication facilities, especially
motor vehicles, railroads, and repair shops.
The quick repair of demolished and obstructed roads is of the utmost importance. Regardless
of the aid of engineers, all troops should be charged with opening up their own line of
advance. The division commander must attach the necessary engineers to the front-line
troops for landing operations, and give to the remainder the task of repairing roads,
railroads, bridges, and so forth. It is essential that engineers quickly repair roads and