The War Illustrated, No. 211 Vol 9 July 20th1945

C 'lENnuAL Sir jp WilliamS u m’s very interesting broadcast and his statement to the Press fully confirm the belief that the Burmese campaign has been conducted with exceptional ability, and that the troops displayed immense dash and energy undermost trying conditions (see illus. page 129). Clearly, the experience and training gained in Burma will be o f the utmost value in the campaigns that have still to be fought. In new theatres it may not be possible again to use armour as effectively as was done in the final advance on Rangoon, but it seems cer­tain that air transport will be developed still further, and that it will greatly accelerate the pace at which operations can be conducted. A ik transport will bean effective instru-ment should the Japanese adopt evasive tactics and withdraw into regions where lack o f roads would slowdown the movements of large forces o f heavily armed troops, and where supply problems limit the action o f lightly-arm ed infiltrating parties. General W ingate’s great experiment, originally designed, I gather, to attack the comm uni­ cations o f the enem y’s main forces and to cause confusion in their rear can, I believe, be adapted to deal with an enemy who adopts guerilla tactics. Guerillas in all their offensive operations rely on surprise but they them­selves are particularly vulnerable to surprise, for even when they can evade destruction by dispersal they can seldom save their munition and supply reserves. Obviously, if troops can be landed and supplied in an unexpected quarter, surprise is much easier to achieve than when the hunt is carried out by the deliberate advance o f slow-moving columns. General Slim has, however, given us fair warning that even heavier tasks than those in Burma lie ahead, and there are undoubtedly places where the Japanese will stand to fight in strength in skilfully prepared positions and in such cases their determination to fight to the death, as Okinawa has proved, will demand heavy sacrifices on our part. We may, in fact, have to conduct two forms o f war­fare :what amounts to trench warfare against an enemy who can only be disposed o f by practically complete extermination, and guerilla warfare in which mobility will have to be developed by every means in a country where the obstacles to mobility are excep­tionally great. OTEREOTYPED Doctrines of Warfare ^Giving Place to Original Thought This applies to the task o f dealing with Japan’s outlying detachments, which, presum­ably, will bethe chief share the Empire will take inland operations. But if and when Japan's home islands are invaded operations maybe o fan entirely different order, possibly involving mobile operations o f great armies similar to those conducted in the war with Germany. Much, however, would depend on the strategic aims the Allies set themselves and on the reliance they placed on the effects o f devastating air attack. It is conceivable that the Allies would be content to aim at seizing certain limited areas and holding them against attacks the Japanese would be bound to deliver, at the same time developing to the utmost the devastating effects o fair power. One thing seems certain— that in all theatres there is little likelihood that the war will be conducted on stereotyped lines, and there will be ample scope for original and imagin­ative thinking. It is, perhaps, fortunate that the war presents problems o fan unpre­cedented character and therefore stimulates original thought. -So far since the Allied counter-offensive started, there are encourag­ing signs that commanders have risen to the occasion and have not been tied to stereo­typed doctrines. But it should, I bethink, realized that success achieved has been mainly strategic. The initiative has been B y MAJ .-GENERAL SIR CHARLES G WYNN K .C.B .S.O.,D .CHINESE TROOPS listen to a talk by their commanding officer before going into action. On June 26,1945, Chinese forces were re­ported 55 miles north-east of Wenchow. 1‘lioto, U.S. Official recovered and Japan has been forced every­where onto the defensive, and communication with her outlying detachments has been cut. Valuable strategic points have also been secured, providing bases for further oper­ations, and the enemy is kept guessing where the next blow will fall. ALTOGETHER Unprecedented Problem .Presented by Japanese Fanaticism It is true that a number o f tactical successes have also been gained, but landon they have only locally been decisive, and not in every case completely decisive even locally. The main tactical battles are still to come, and undoubtedly it is in the tactical struggle that Japanese fanaticism presents an altogether unprecedented problem. How hard it is to crush fanaticism in defence, Okinawa, and numerous other encounters involving the use o f tremendous weight of metal in the attack, have clearly proved. On the other hand, fanaticism in the open or where it spurs on the enemy to attack defensive positions, can accomplish little against modern weapons and leads to immense and disproportionate losses. In the Philippines and in Burm a this probably accounts for a ratio o f death o f over ten to one. Where it is impossible to get the Japanese to fight in the open and too u t­m anoeuvre them, it might sometimes be possible to play on their fanaticism by deliberately standing on the defensive in positions which fanaticism ,would induce them to attack. Possession o f the strategic initiative often gives opportunities o f exploit­ing such tactics, which are after all as old as warfare itself. They were, for instance, in a modified form adopted by the Russians in the battle o f the K ursk salient, and in avery different setting by Kitchener atOm durm an— two battles which produced exceptionally decisive results. Stalingrad might seem to be o f the same character, but I do not quote it, therefor the German disaster arose from the misuse o f the strategic initiative and there was no question o f deliberately inviting attack. T o stand on the defensive at certain points does PAGE 163 not necessarily imply the abandonment of strategic initiative but only the tem­porary loss of tactical initiative, which is o f less importance. It may actually confer advantages by providing better opportunities for the effective use of modern weapons, and in this case it might abe method for making Japanese fanaticism a source o f weakness instead of being a military asset—and that, surely, must be one o f the aims o f the Allied commanders. Q PEE D-U Pin Chinese Operations Producing Encouraging Results The completion o f the Okinawa battle and the liberation o f Luzon obviously releases a large force o f American troops for further operations, but presumably a pause for re­grouping must be expected before the next major operation is undertaken. Meantime, the Chinese operations in Kwangsi and C hekiang are producing interesting and encouraging results. It is not yet clear how far the success that has been achieved is due to a deliberate withdrawal o f the Japanese northwards, in order to shorten lines o f com­munication, difficult to protect, and to secure greater concentration. In Kwangsi the Japanese can hardly have willingly abandoned their land-line o f communication to French Indo-China, and they offer stubborn resis­tance at the railway centre at Liuchow. They also counter-attacked with some success from the direction of the lndo-C hina frontier, apparently in hopes o f re-establishing the line o f communication that had been cut. The breach is, however, so wide that the prospects o f closing it must be small. The obstinate defence o f Liuchow, if a general withdrawal northwards is contemplated, may either abe delaying or face-saving light. Part o f the Chinese force engaged has evidently by-passed Liuchow and is approaching Kweilin, where the U.S. Air Force in China had, till it was lost, one o fits chief bases.'T 'liii progress o f the Chinese force which in A the middle o f May recaptured the large porto f Foochow, opposite Formosa, has been even more remarkable. After defeating an evidently weak counter-attack by the Japanese it has advanced northwards from Fukien into C hekiang and now controls some 150 miles o f coastline, including the considerable porto f W enchow. Presumably the reason for the weakness of the opposition is that in the coastal regions the Japanese have relied on sea communications which can no longer be effectively maintained in face o fair attacks. There is no railway line serving the areas through which the advance has been made, and it should be realized that Japanese permanent occupation exists only in the neigh­ bourhood Of railways or steamer comm uni­ cations. In northern C hekiang a railway, however, runs south-west inland from Hangchow ,and on it much stronger opposi­tion will probably be met. BATTLE ZONE IN CHINA, showing For- mosa’sjproximity to the mainland, also Hong Kong and the approaches from the South and East China Seas.
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