Chindit vs Japanese Infantryman 1943-44, Jon Diamond

Chindit vs Japanese Infantryman 1943-44, Jon Diamond

Combat 10

I'm not always convinced about the idea of a 'vs' title, as it is rarely the case that two specific troop types actually fight against each other without masses of support from other arms - armour, artillery and air power for the Second World War. In this case that isn't quite the case - the Chindits has access to some medium weapons and an increasing level of air support, and the Japanese had their normal division artillery and air support, but in many cases the actual fighting was carried out by almost unsupported infantry.

The book acknowledges the changing nature of the Chindit experience. On their first operation they largely fought as isolated columns, with no fixed base and supply by air drop only. In 1944 this changed, and the Chindits established a series of strongholds where they were able to build airfields, allowing for air supply and the evacuation of the wounded. I must admit I'm not sure about the choice of Nankan Station as the sample fight from 1943, as the author admits that it wasn't typical of the fighting in that year. Pagoda Hill and Mogaung make more sense for 1944, with the first taking place while the Chindits were establishing their first base, and Mogaung after Wingate's death and their misuse as regular infantry.

Some similarities emerge between the two troop types, in particular that both went through very rigorous training, although for different reasons - all Japanese infantry went through a similar training regime, while the Chindits training was planned by Wingate to toughen them up for the jungle.

It was interesting to have some Japanese views on the impact of the Chindits. At the lower levels they were blamed for disrupting supplies and lowered the morale of Japanese troops who felt increasingly isolated. At higher levels the Japanese didn't alter their plans for 1944 because of the Chindits, but probably should have done, as the Chindits had a major impact on their logistical tail. The Japanese response comes across as piecemeal and badly organised, ensuring that the Chindits rarely had to fight off a really large scale Japanese attack. 

The Opposing Sides
Nankan Station, 6 March 1943
Pagoda Hill, 2-12 June 1944
Mogaung, 2-12 June 1944
Lessons learned: The British; The Japanese

Author: Jon Diamond
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2015

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