- 21/03/2021 at 00:38 #154095
In the discussion on the “Jungle Gunners” thread a year or so ago, mention was made of the Japanese tactic of firing a few rounds at the same time as Allied artillery, with the intention of persuading the Allied gunners to check fire because of drop-shorts.
Having recently ploughed through a load of copies of “Field Artillery Journal” looking for other stuff, I came across the following two corroborative snippets mentioning the practice.
From “Division Artillery in the Battle of New Georgia”, by Lt. Col. Howard F. Haines, FA, Field Artillery Journal, November 1943, p. 849:
“Japanese artillery fire, while at times annoying, was entirely ineffective. Although they had 75-mm high-velocity guns in several locations near the airport, and observation from Kokengolo Hill and at times from the air, no more than one gun was ever fired at a time and no serious attempt at counterbattery seems to have been made.
Their most effective counter-measure seems to have been the firing of mortars and artillery by single piece inside our lines when our artillery was firing to give the impression that our own fire was falling short. This was definitely proved in many instances, and unfortunately at times accomplished its purpose when our artillery was ordered to suspend firing. It must be guarded against carefully.”
From “The TEAM on New Georgia”, by An Infantry Battalion Commander, extracted from a letter to Maj. Gen. Robert M. Danford, U.S.A., Ret., Field Artillery Journal, November 1943, p. 845:
And here the Japs pulled an old trick on us which they frequently use and which we must learn to recognize. As the second volley for adjustment was fired, the Japs put one 77-mm howitzer shell just behind the lines of the unit on our right. The artillery liaison officer and I, who were together during this adjustment, saw the four 105-mm shells strike near the desired target area—but the unit on our right insisted they had received a dangerous “short” in their lines. FDC stopped the adjustment and I sent an officer to the spot where the “short” had struck. I told him to inquire if the smoke from the explosion was black (that’s a characteristic of the Jap howitzer shell which I had observed when several of them visited our battalion CP one time); the 105-mm shell smoke is bluish. Well, the witnesses allowed as how the smoke was blackish, and furthermore the officer found the Jap fuze.
So we got straightened out and adjustment was begun again. Immediately the Japs put one round behind the lines of a unit far over on our right. I could hear their blasted little gun go off just after our guns fired! Well, by the time this unit hollered to the FDC another volley was on the way and another Jap round also. Our shells were now all hitting right in the target area, but the unit on the far right was jumping up and down, saying they would have to withdraw from their positions if we didn’t stop putting shorts in their lines. So the harassed FDC cancelled all firing, but with approximately eight artillery shells which landed directly in the target area, plus a goodly barrage of 81- and 60-mm mortar fire, we again waltzed through the Jap defenses, receiving very little opposition.”
All the best,
John.21/03/2021 at 14:30 #154103Steve JohnsonParticipant
Very interesting John and I wonder whether other armies used similar tactics?22/03/2021 at 11:44 #154127ThuseldParticipant22/03/2021 at 14:11 #154130
I vaguely seem to recall that there was a case in which the Germans were accused of using a similar trick, but I cannot at the moment recall any detail.
Of course it is a very sensible tactic if fighting against an enemy with massive artillery superiority — use the enemy’s strength against themself.
One of the things that comes out of the reports I posted is just how poor non-experts could be at telling friendly and enemy artillery apart. I remember this question came up at COW years ago during a play of John Armatys and Martin Rapier’s “Battle Group” WW2 rules, when a confused situation meant one company could not be sure whether the fire falling on them was friendly or enemy. Presumably the question depends mainly on the fillings used, which I imagine would determine the smoke colour and the detonation velocity (and so the sound signature). As both British and German shells were often filled with Amatol, I would have thought it quite hard to tell the difference. We decided, on the basis of no information beyond an old Monty Python sketch, that German shells should make a nasty tinny-sounding foreign bang, and British ones should make a comforting, woody sort of crump.
There just aren’t enough artillery filling nerds, that’s the trouble.
All the best,
John.22/03/2021 at 22:29 #154144willzParticipant
That was a really good and interesting read.23/03/2021 at 10:26 #154161deephorseParticipant
There’s yet another set of WWII rules with the words ‘Battle’ and ‘Group’ in the title? So that’s three that I’m know of, and I am by no means aware of all such rules.
Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.23/03/2021 at 12:34 #154167Jemima FawrParticipant
Excellent stuff as always! Re the different-coloured smoke – a couple of accounts from Burma mention the unusual thick black smoke created by 50mm ‘knee-mortar’ rounds, which tended to suggested that it was different to British mortars. Out of curiosity, I’ve just asked an ex-RAF EOD mate of mine on Facebook and he says that Amatol creates a white smoke cloud, whereas most other HE such as TNT and PE creates black smoke.
My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/25/03/2021 at 10:01 #154238
Excellent stuff as always!
Re the different-coloured smoke – a couple of accounts from Burma mention the unusual thick black smoke created by 50mm ‘knee-mortar’ rounds, which tended to suggested that it was different to British mortars. Out of curiosity, I’ve just asked an ex-RAF EOD mate of mine on Facebook and he says that Amatol creates a white smoke cloud, whereas most other HE such as TNT and PE creates black smoke.
The only information I have in knee-mortar fillings says the Type 89 bomb was filled with TNT. From what I recall most 2-in HE rounds were filled with baratol.
Thinking back to the times I have seen field artillery HE bursts, I’d say that most of them were mud-coloured, but then Larkhill tends towards the dry and dusty in the tourist season.
All the best,
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