Home Forums WWII Who are the best jungle troops?

This topic contains 34 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  Buck Surdu 3 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #107680
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    Given that the US superpower was beaten in Vietnam, jungle fighting might well be a difficult skill set for soldiers.

    Lindybeige asked this very question and I do like a good English eccentric:

    My initial response as to his conclusion was to smile indulgently. He does, however, make good points & the British were notably successful in the jungles of the Malayan Emergency.

    Avoiding the debatable use of ‘best’, which troops from WW2 to today might vie for the honour?

     

    donald

     

    #107681
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    The ones who have been there the longest. The first time you walk into primary rainforest is like going to a shopping mall for the first time.

    You don’t know what plants do what (the wait a while palm in PNG will rip several 1 sq cm chunks out of your shirt and flesh, stinging leaves can look so inviting one of my colleagues used them as toilet paper). You aren’t used to what soils you can stand on and what you can’t, how to tell a rotten log from a solid one, which spiders and other creepy crawlies will kill you, which will make you very sick and which are just hideous. You don’t know how to move silently and how to read the movement of plants in the breeze.

    With time, you get better water discipline, faster movement, you pick unnatural things up faster. You also learn how to pace yourself so that you are not permanently on the point of collapse.

    #107682

    Fredd Bloggs
    Participant

    The Jungle is Neutral. (basically it is trying to kill both sides equally).

    So then it is who learns fastest, and as the Japanese and Malayan rebels learnt, the British (and commonwealth troops) learn fast, and the Vietnamese found, the US do not. It was not an accident that the Australians in Vietnam had a lot fewer jungle issues than the US.

    #107683

    Gaz045
    Participant

    The indigenous tribal resistance groups in Burma/Myanmar and likewise in Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia region have lasted for years against government forces, their affinity and skill base is probably unbeatable……..supplies and materiel being their weakness.

     

    US forces in Vietnam suffered a skills gap with the 12 month tour system, constantly replacing experienced troops with FNG’s, unit rotation would probably have increased performance in the jungle rather than watering down the skill set.

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    #107707
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    The ones who have been there the longest. The first time you walk into primary rainforest is like going to a shopping mall for the first time. You don’t know what plants do what (the wait a while palm in PNG will rip several 1 sq cm chunks out of your shirt and flesh, stinging leaves can look so inviting one of my colleagues used them as toilet paper). You aren’t used to what soils you can stand on and what you can’t, how to tell a rotten log from a solid one, which spiders and other creepy crawlies will kill you, which will make you very sick and which are just hideous. You don’t know how to move silently and how to read the movement of plants in the breeze. With time, you get better water discipline, faster movement, you pick unnatural things up faster. You also learn how to pace yourself so that you are not permanently on the point of collapse.

    Interestingly, the Australians on the Kokoda (supposedly one of the most trying of jungle battlefields) learned very fast to inflict the first defeat on the Japanese land forces for the war. Some of these Aussie battalions were freshly arrived from North Africa, too.

    Is a good soldier a good soldier no matter where he fights?

    donald

    #107755
    willz
    willz
    Participant

    I would have thought the the local dwellers, who know the jungle would make the best jungle fighters.  As America found out trying to beat people into submission using all the technology available to a super power did not work, especially if the locals have the audacity to attack you with bows and arrows or low level technical weaponry.  Expanding your question to Star Wars theme I would say Ewoks are the best jungle fighters.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by willz willz.
    #107759

    Thomaston
    Participant

    No idea.
    If it’s in terms of success British seems to be more successful. Then again what are we comparing? All out full blow conflict or counter insurgency? What kind of units are we comparing. In the Malayan Emergency I think the British Army benefited a lot from WWII Burma campaign. I don’t think US forces did much jungle fighting except the Marines and some Army units on Guadal Canal and island hopping. In Vietnam US special forces did do better than the GIs.

    There were a few wars in South America that was fought in the jungle those guys might also be a contender. They even have counter drug/COIN operations going on in the modern day so I’d say they might be the most proficient. Philippines Army and Marines also do a lot of patrols in the jungle.

    Conventional forces, British Army does have a jungle school, from what I could tell very few get to go each year.

    My final vote is for the various rebel groups, those guys maintain operations with little support and training compared to government troops and still managed to hold their own, at least for a while.

    Tired is enough.

    #107762
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Fascinating; as most of lindybeige’s pronouncements are, but as sometimes happens with him, not desperately accurate.
    The idea the British thought you couldn’t fight in jungle may be a nice excuse for the inept planning and performance in losing Singapore but is hardly reflective of the British Army’s experience prior to that conflict. They may have forgotten you could fight – and win -in jungles but they had done it before; West Africa – Togo and Cameroon, and in the nineteenth century in Burma for starters.
    Also saying the US couldn’t fight in jungles in Vietnam does seem to need a little clarification – what US Units and when? Various special force units and some marines did pretty well, and then there is the whole – ‘what were they trying to achieve?’ question – a bag of worms I am going to run away from, it being a strategico/political argument fraught with argument about who won what and why.
    As for who is best – field craft? tactically? operationally? strategically?
    Having a clear strategic aim – Malaya – helps apply the correct tactics. Not knowing precisely what you want to achieve with varying ‘schools’ vying for supremacy of ‘how’ to achieve the inchoate goal is a set up for disaster.
    My father served in Burma – not the Chindits but in a special boat unit in the chaung wars – away from roads (as if!) and tracks behind Japanese lines. A friend had been in the Malay Emergency and took part in an ambush in the jungle of a CT cell, which was wiped out. The jungle was something they became used to and the focus was on the basic fighting skills, not being seen, heard or smelt, my Dad reckoned you could smell cigarettes a very long way off , and being aware of the enemy and not all the ‘orrible things trying to eat, sting or poison you.
    He thought the Sikhs and South Africans he fought alongside were particularly good – neither of whom are culturally predisposed to jungle warfare – I suspect what Ochoin asked is relevant – a good soldier can be good anywhere with the right preparation.
    I suspect accepting the terrain for what it is and not having tons of dosh to throw at the problem in lieu of thinking about it helps as well

    #107764
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    US forces in Vietnam suffered a skills gap with the 12 month tour system, constantly replacing experienced troops with FNG’s, unit rotation would probably have increased performance in the jungle rather than watering down the skill set.

      The US also suffered from command directives that did not take the reality on the ground into account, forcing units to move through jungle as quickly as possible causing much noise due to hacking at the green, rather than allowing them to move at the pace the jungle requires.

    So lets bust a falsity right here.  Make no mistake, the US had some great jungle fighting units in Vietnam, though most were recon units (like SOG, Sigma/Omega/Delta, USMC Stingray, ASAS, etc).  The Mobile Guerrilla Force was probably the best of all “regular” sized formations at jungle fighting, but the ARVN had some Ranger companies that were also exceptional.  The Montagnards/CIDG, though excellent in the jungles they were born to, were not “the best” jungle fighters because they lacked a military tradition and experience which would sometimes lead them to be only as effective as green regular units, though also generally much more courageous due to this lack.

    The NVA were not that great at jungle fighting.  They had excellent camouflage discipline for the most part, but the jungle was not their friend, and they suffered massive casualties just from the environment.  They also did not own the night, as they were just as afraid to move around at night as the FWF if there was enemy in their area.

    I could really rant on, but I will stop short of getting loose…

    Back to the question of WW2, I’d have to say the Gurhka would be the best jungle fighters.  They were indeed born to the environment, brave to a fault, extremely effective, and feared by the enemy.

    Is a good soldier a good soldier no matter where he fights?

      That could be a “yes, but…” question.  It’s not just a question of fighting ability, but conditioning and preparation for living in the environment.  A unit that is given extensive jungle training will obviously fare better when introduced to the combat zone than one that has not had the same pre-exposure.  BUT, all of that means nothing if the troops themselves cannot cope with the environmental conditions.  Can a good soldier adapt to the environment?  Yes, probably more easily than a poor one.  But people from a climate zone that differs extremely from the jungle will suffer incredibly.  For example: I spent 6 months in Costa Rica.  It took me about a month to fully adapt to the climate (hot humid jungles/rainforest and awesome beaches).  Two of the guys I worked with were form Norway, 1 was from Scotland, another from Egypt and the last was from Liberia.  The Norweigans had been there for a year already and had not adapted well at all (Peter had heat stroke twice in a month and went home soon after).  The Scott suffered quite a bit as well, and was always “borrowing” water from me.  Marco (the Liberian) was right at home, almost never even broke a sweat.  Youseff (Egyptian) hated the humidity, but enjoyed the heat, but was not very good at jungle movement.  Whether he was just naturally clumsy or just didn’t pay attention in the woods I don’t know, but if anyone was going to fall or get hurt it was him.

    Bit of a ramble, probably lost my point.  YMMV…

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #107774
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I always thought “The Jungle is Neutral” was F Spencer Chapman, not Bill Slim.

    Bill Slim himself was quite clear as to who were the very best jungle fighters of them all; 81st and 82nd (West African) Divisions.

    After the war, the Gurkhas acquired a considerable reputation as guardians of the Army’s jungle fighting skills, to the extent that people tended to forget that their home environment was as little like tropical rainforest as the urban Brit’s. During the Konfrontasi against Indonesia, Dayak trackers acquired a pretty formidable reputation, and Dayaks continue to be notable in the armed forces of Malaysia.

    Now I would reckon the Australians have a good claim to being the world’s best, having taken a deliberate policy decision for their Army to specialise in dismounted close combat in “complex terrain” in the Pacific area as their distinctive contribution to their military alliance with America since the Vietnam war. As a principle of the time had it, “People think the jungle is full of lurking horrors: under our system, we do the lurking.”

    The British Army probably lost its institutional jungle fighting skills some time in the 1980s, although everyone continues to train in the much gentler discipline of FIWAF (Fighting In Woods And Forests), and even at peak jungling I doubt any British units were quite as good as the West Africans, Gurkhas, Dayaks or Aussies. As for the SAS training people in jungle warfare, Lindybeige seems to forget that the British SAS had to be resurrected in response the magnificent example of the New Zealand SAS during the Malayan Emergency.

    All the best,

    John.

    #107778

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Well, as Walter Sobchak said, “Fighting in desert is very different from fighting in canopy jungle.”

    I think the Australians and New Guineans probably did pretty well, as did the US Marines at Guadalcanal and Tinian. The South Koreans did well in Vietnam, as did US Special Forces and ARVN Rangers – if the measure is battle performance and not necessarily strategic victory. Likewise, the Philippine Army did pretty well in resistance to the Japanese.

    One might also consider the Colombians in their counter-insuregency operations in South America.

    #107784

    Etranger
    Participant

    I always thought “The Jungle is Neutral” was F Spencer Chapman, not Bill Slim. Bill Slim himself was quite clear as to who were the very best jungle fighters of them all; 81st and 82nd (West African) Divisions. After the war, the Gurkhas acquired a considerable reputation as guardians of the Army’s jungle fighting skills, to the extent that people tended to forget that their home environment was as little like tropical rainforest as the urban Brit’s. During the Konfrontasi against Indonesia, Dayak trackers acquired a pretty formidable reputation, and Dayaks continue to be notable in the armed forces of Malaysia. Now I would reckon the Australians have a good claim to being the world’s best, having taken a deliberate policy decision for their Army to specialise in dismounted close combat in “complex terrain” in the Pacific area as their distinctive contribution to their military alliance with America since the Vietnam war. As a principle of the time had it, “People think the jungle is full of lurking horrors: under our system, we do the lurking.” The British Army probably lost its institutional jungle fighting skills some time in the 1980s, although everyone continues to train in the much gentler discipline of FIWAF (Fighting In Woods And Forests), and even at peak jungling I doubt any British units were quite as good as the West Africans, Gurkhas, Dayaks or Aussies. As for the SAS training people in jungle warfare, Lindybeige seems to forget that the British SAS had to be resurrected in response the magnificent example of the New Zealand SAS during the Malayan Emergency. All the best, John.

    The Austtralian Army had (& has) a dedicated Jungle Warfare Training Area at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoalwater_Bay  through which units deploying to Vietnam passed prior to deployment. They also had the advantage that the Australian Army Training Team (long service veterans, often with combat experience in WWII, Korea & Malaya) had been deployed for a number of years before the bulk of troops were committed, so there was a pool of knowledge already within the army.

    Another possible contender would be the Keren (and other ethnic minorities) along the Burma/India border, who gave the Japanese a lot of trouble in WWII & still engage in guerilla warfare against the Burmese government. As an aside, one of my colleagues is the son of one of their senior WWII (British) officers.

    Australia also has the little known Norforce, which is the Australian Army’s reconnaissance/ guerrilla unit in Northern Australia. It’s largely composed of local Aboriginals, trained to professional standards (technically Army Reserve, equivalent to the TA) & living and working in the tropical rainforest (ie jungle), as well as some of the other environments in the country . They’d give most jungle fighters a hard time, particularly in their own backyard. They, along with the SAS, are Australia’s jungle warfare experts  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NORFORCE https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2010/07/green-skin-australias-indigenous-army/ 

    #107785
    hammurabi70
    hammurabi70
    Participant

    Given that the US superpower was beaten in Vietnam, jungle fighting might well be a difficult skill set for soldiers.

    He does, however, make good points & the British were notably successful in the jungles of the Malayan Emergency. Avoiding the debatable use of ‘best’, which troops from WW2 to today might vie for the honour? donald

    (1) Was the US beaten in Vietnam?  Which American units were overrun in 1975?

    (2) The British failed abysmally in 1941 in Malaya even if they did better at a later date.

    It would seem that those with training in jungle warfare and subsequent experience in fighting in jungles have the best claim.  Maybe the Vietnamese should put in a claim?

    #107786
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    As a side note, have you noticed we don’t seem to have “jungle” anymore? At least, it’s dropped out of parlance here. It’s all”rain forest” now.

    I live with quite a bit of rain forest within driving distance n several directions. It’s all national park & criss crossed with often long and quite mountainous walking tracks which I very much like to use.   Admittedly no lions, or tigers or bears (oh my!) but Aussie rain forest has various ticks, spiders &, surprise! poisonous snakes so not quite benign. I love it very much & find it unbelievably beautiful though admittedly there are no Japanese lurking around the next bend of the track……actually there are but they’re in large tour groups & armed with smart phones.

     

    donald

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by Ochoin Ochoin.
    #107788

    Etranger
    Participant

    (1) Was the US beaten in Vietnam? Which American units were overrun in 1975? …

    Given that the Americans had left in 1973, that’s a slightly spurious point. Militarily they may not have been beaten, (depending upon your definition) but in the grand scheme of things that’s irrelevant. The (North) Vietnamese won (other Vietnamese also lost, but that’s another discussion). That said, a lot of the NVA were no more familiar with the jungle than their American opponents, since many were recruited from cities and towns.

    (1)  (2) The British failed abysmally in 1941 in Malaya even if they did better at a later date…

    Those few British troops who had been trained in jungle warfare (2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) performed far better in 1941 than the majority of British Empire troops. Unfortunately such training was regarded as unnecessary by Malaya Command. https://www.cofepow.org.uk/armed-forces-stories-list/the-campaign-in-malaya-2

     It would seem that those with training in jungle warfare and subsequent experience in fighting in jungles have the best claim. 

    That would be the conclusion I’d also reach, coupled with familiarity with what is a completely alien environment to many people. Freddie Chapman’s claim that The Jungle is Neutral was based upon long, hard earned experience…

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by  Etranger.
    #107789
    Ivan Sorensen
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    +1 for living there.
    +1 for proper equipment.
    +1 for proper training.
    +1 for home turf.
    +1 for being willing to suck up the disease and misery.

    Some questions could be asked:

    If the Yanks in Vietnam were rated X and the NVA were rated Y in terms of combat power, how much did that change in the jungle?

    Did each army lose the same ratio of combat power?

    Did the jungle inhibit one army more than the other?

    If we assume the US army as a baseline was not skilled in jungle warfare (which the video seems to suggest) was this overcome through firepower and logistics?
    If so, what would the effective combat power have been WITH better jungle training?

    If we assume the US was skilled in jungle warfare institutionally (as posters above suggest) does the experience in Vietnam reflect what we’d expect to happen, given the disparities in firepower and logistics?

    Did the reliance on overwhelming firepower inhibit the practice of superior jungle tactics or did it enhance it?

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://sites.google.com/site/nordicweaselgames/

    #107791

    Etranger
    Participant

    As a side note, have you noticed we don’t seem to have “jungle” anymore? At least, it’s dropped out of parlance here. It’s all”rain forest” now. I live with quite a bit of rain forest within driving distance n several directions. It’s all national park & criss crossed with often long and quite mountainous walking tracks which I very much like to use. Admittedly no lions, or tigers or bears (oh my!) but Aussie rain forest has various ticks, spiders &, surprise! poisonous snakes so not quite benign. I love it very much & find it unbelievably beautiful though admittedly there are no Japanese lurking around the next bend of the track……actually there are but they’re in large tour groups & armed with smart phones. donald

    There are always the Drop Bears to look out for! Presumably you are too far south for cassowaries? (AKA the Prehistoric Rainforest Death Monster from Outer Space.) It’s a a safe bet that in the bush everything can kill you given the opportunity.

    #107792
    Jemima Fawr
    Jemima Fawr
    Participant

    John’s already beaten me to it, but the 81st & 82nd West African Divisions certainly stood out during the Burma Campaign.  They operated on a markedly lighter scale of equipment and resupply than the Chindits.  Unlike the Chindits, they were operating in direct support of the main XIVth Army effort and managed to preserve themselves as fighting formations.  They also managed to hack out airfields out of the jungle as they went and thanks to the considerable skill of RAF and US Volunteer Corps pilots, maintained a rate and speed of battlefield casualty evacuation that wasn’t bettered until advent of large-scale helicopter use.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #107793

    Etranger
    Participant

    +… Some questions could be asked: If the Yanks in Vietnam were rated X and the NVA were rated Y in terms of combat power, how much did that change in the jungle? Did each army lose the same ratio of combat power? Did the jungle inhibit one army more than the other? If we assume the US army as a baseline was not skilled in jungle warfare (which the video seems to suggest) was this overcome through firepower and logistics? If so, what would the effective combat power have been WITH better jungle training? If we assume the US was skilled in jungle warfare institutionally (as posters above suggest) does the experience in Vietnam reflect what we’d expect to happen, given the disparities in firepower and logistics? Did the reliance on overwhelming firepower inhibit the practice of superior jungle tactics or did it enhance it?

    Some people have made their careers out of discussing these issues! Perhaps start here for one perspective on the broader strategic, military and geo-political issues, all of which impacted upon the US performance & without which… background battlefield performance is hard to interpret (IMHO). http://oxfordre.com/americanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-239

    #107794
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Told you the US in Vietnam was a can of worms!

    Nordicweasel – if you want to use the concept of combat power – the ‘ordinary’ US Army unit’s was considerably aided by mortar, artillery and close air/helicopter support. The enemy in Vietnam usually knew this and negated the advantage by ‘hugging the enemy’ close. With an average engagement range of c10-30 metres in terrain that meant even at that range the enemy was largely invisible, bringing accurate support fire into play was ‘problematic’ without blue on blue.

    So while the VC/NVA may not have been jungle superwarriors they seem to have had enough nous to make sure they could ambush and break contact, if not at will, then certainly well enough to cause serious problems to ordinary US forces and an initial equalisation of ‘combat power’.

    I don’t think the VC or the NVA beat the USA in the field and the US probably had the superior ‘jungle fighters’ in their special forces and recon groups.

    The whole argument about who ‘won’ in the greater scheme is another discussion – destined still to generate as much heat as light.

    The USA probably won the battles, lost the campaign but won the war (The Cold War).

    Who had the best ‘jungle fighters’ was probably of little relevance to those outcomes.

    #107795

    Thomaston
    Participant

    Didn’t expect this to pick up so much. I think I’ll consider Northern Australia as my next holiday destination.

    Tired is enough.

    #107798
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    The Austtralian Army had (& has) a dedicated Jungle Warfare Training Area at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoalwater_Bay through which units deploying to Vietnam passed prior to deployment. They also had the advantage that the Australian Army Training Team (long service veterans, often with combat experience in WWII, Korea & Malaya) had been deployed for a number of years before the bulk of troops were committed, so there was a pool of knowledge already within the army.

    As an example of just how thoroughly the Australian Task Force outfought the NVA and VC forces they met in Viet Nam, the following percentage breakdown of close-combat encounters comes from “Bang on Target: Infantry Marksmanship and Combat Effectiveness in Viet Nam”, by Dr Bob Hall and Dr Andrew Ross, Australian Army Journal Vol. VI no. I, pp. 139-156.

    Percentage of encounters, by type:

    Patrol encounters           36%
    Ambush of enemy             34%
    Security contacts           20%
    Attack on enemy position     8%
    Ambush by enemy              2%
    

    I reckon if you are ambushing the enemy at seventeen times the rate he is ambushing you, then you are pretty much beating him like a gong.

    This may be a good time to remind people that “The Odd Angry Shot” is far the best Vietnam war film ever made.

    All the best,

    John.

    #107800
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    The ones who have been there the longest. The first time you walk into primary rainforest is like going to a shopping mall for the first time. You don’t know what plants do what (the wait a while palm in PNG will rip several 1 sq cm chunks out of your shirt and flesh, stinging leaves can look so inviting one of my colleagues used them as toilet paper). You aren’t used to what soils you can stand on and what you can’t, how to tell a rotten log from a solid one, which spiders and other creepy crawlies will kill you, which will make you very sick and which are just hideous. You don’t know how to move silently and how to read the movement of plants in the breeze. With time, you get better water discipline, faster movement, you pick unnatural things up faster. You also learn how to pace yourself so that you are not permanently on the point of collapse.

    Interestingly, the Australians on the Kokoda (supposedly one of the most trying of jungle battlefields) learned very fast to inflict the first defeat on the Japanese land forces for the war. Some of these Aussie battalions were freshly arrived from North Africa, too.

    Is a good soldier a good soldier no matter where he fights?

    donald

    Yes, he is, but he gets downgraded whilst he is on the terrain learning curve.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that, although the militia on the Kokoda track were not experienced in combat in the jungle, neither were their Japanese opponents. By the time the AIF arrived from the middle east, the Japs had been held and were being pushed back.

    I don’t know much about warfare besides what I have read in books, but I know a lot about terrain. The learning curve is harsh enough when nobody is trying to shoot you. What to carry, what to leave behind, and what to throw away is different for each locale. Things that count for little in the open forests of Guadalcanal may be vitally important on a cold night in the Owen Stanleys. I went from the jungles of PNG to working at 5,000m in Bolivia, learning what to carry there was a whole new eye opener (Bous question, why do you always have a small towel in your pack at 5,000m?).

    I would concur completely with the salty picky one, the best jungle war film was The Odd Angry Shot, if you thought Graham Kennedy was just a buffoon banned from TV for saying Farrrk on an open mike, that one shows him as the superb actor that he was.

    Despite my lack of military knowledge. Were I to be fighting in a jungle, I would have a small recce team of maybe three scouts for a platoon. They would move forward slowly (100m in an hour is fine). When they found a track to be ambushed (No one can walk through the jungle without making a track) or the enemy, they would send back to the rest who would move forward and set up the ambush. Marching through jungle is pointless, it makes you tired and makes a noise. Better to find out where the enemy is and then wait for him to come to you.

    #107801

    Etranger
    Participant

    The towel is to wipe away sweat before it freezes. At least that’s the case at 7000m in the Himalayas! (where the Gurkhas come from…)

    Some would say that Gra-Gra’s whole life was an act. TOAS is recommended by most of the Vietnam vets I know.

    #107802
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    Didn’t expect this to pick up so much. I think I’ll consider Northern Australia as my next holiday destination.

    I heartily recommend Tasmania. Queensland, WA & NT are fine but good bits separated by hundreds of kilometers of boring bits. Avoid Melbourne like the plague (NB personal opinion: some people like it). As you’d know, you can’t see the whole place in a single holiday. Kind of like saying, ‘I’ll do Europe in a weekend.” Carefully choosing manageable bits is the correct approach.

     

    donald

    #107803
    Ochoin
    Ochoin
    Participant

    Told you the US in Vietnam was a can of worms! .

    I’m not sorry for bringing this up. Unlike *some* forums where suggesting the US lost the Vietnam War would bring a torrent of abuse & calumny, TWW can tolerate differences of opinion amongst civil & sane members (….apologies, Grizz). As it was only a side point of my OP, I don’t feel the need to further discuss it but I shall read any further opinions with interest.

     

    donald

    #107805
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    And a Lollipop for the Alien from Adelaide. You only forget it once and you will blame all the aches and pains for that once. It is indicative of why armies have a home side advantage, and how it can be lost.

    #107806
    Thaddeus Blanchette
    Thaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    These guys are supposedly pretty good…

    http://www.1bis.eb.mil.br

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #107819
    Jemima Fawr
    Jemima Fawr
    Participant

    This may be a good time to remind people that “The Odd Angry Shot” is far the best Vietnam war film ever made. All the best, John.

    Oh indeed!  The ‘Padre’s Leaving Present’ being the best scene… 😉

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #107820
    Jemima Fawr
    Jemima Fawr
    Participant

    Better to find out where the enemy is and then wait for him to come to you.

    Yes and in the case of Burma, that’s what the Japanese almost constantly attempted to do, until finally beaten by Slim – strategically on the offensive but tactically on the defensive.  They would invariably infiltrate – not so much through the jungle, but usually by side-tracks and paths that weren’t considered by the Allies because they weren’t motorable.  Then they would select key terrain that straddled or dominated the enemy’s line of communication, establish a road-block, dig in deep and wait for the enemy to attack.

    Where the Japanese were forced to attack they frequently failed and their rate of failure increased as the war went on and the Allies got better at their game.  The lack of low-level small-unit initiative permitted in the IJA also meant that any failure was met with immediate repetition of the same plan until they either succeeded at great cost or failed utterly with catastrophic losses.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #107822
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    The West African thing explains a story my father told me which confused the heck out of me as a child.

    To my constant refrain of ‘what did you do in the war Daddy?’ he would tell stories peripheral to what went on at the sharp end, obviously, rather than what fighting the Japanese was really like. One story was when he and some friends were on shore leave (I think in Trincomalee) when a local boy pinched one of their wallets. A chase began, brought to a swift halt when an African soldier on police patrol stepped up and shot the boy with a revolver. (My father always said he wasn’t killed but I’m not so sure  I believe him on reflection.) The soldier retrieved the wallet and returned it to the group and (and I apologise for the language but this is straight reportage from another era) with a big smile asked ‘Here you are Sir, was this black bastard bothering you?’

    Apart from the obvious callousness and irony of the language it always puzzled me why an African soldier turned up in Ceylon/Sri Lanka. My father didn’t work with any of them in the chaungs – it was all commandos and agents and other odd bods so I wondered if he had got it wrong (silly boy that I am!).

    Now it all makes a lot more sense.

    Good to know the jungle expertise of the WAFF in WWI came in handy again.

     

    #107847
    Jemima Fawr
    Jemima Fawr
    Participant

    Yes, there were quite a lot of East and West African Heavy Anti-Aircraft units in Ceylon and around Calcutta.  In the Burma Campaign itself there were the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions and the 11th East African Division, plus a couple of independent East African Brigades.  One brigade of the 81st served as Chindits, while the 81st West African Recce Regiment did detached duty as the XV Corps Recce Regiment – initially in Carriers and LRCs, but latterly in water-craft and as it happens, working closely with 3 Commando Bde and the various irregular/SF units along the Arakan coast.

    The 81st WA Division has a superb divisional history – ‘War Bush’ by John A L Hamilton – which I can highly recommend.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #108678
    vtsaogames
    vtsaogames
    Participant

    The shooting tale reminds me of a story told by a friend (to switch theaters and focus). His father was a refugee who was picked up by the US Army as an interpreter in Germany after the Nazi surrender. MP’s arrested a Soviet soldier for rape and brought him to the local Soviet officer. The officer apologized to the US troops, took out his pistol and executed the soldier.

    https://corlearshookfencibles.blogspot.com/

    #108705
    Patrice
    Patrice
    Participant

    Incidentally, the French Army has a Jungle Training Center (run by the FFL) in French Guiana.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_Training_Center

    No war there, but the French TV often shows documentaries on military patrols chasing illegal placer miners in the jungle.

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    http://www.anargader.net/

    #109525

    Buck Surdu
    Participant

    No matter how you count it, there was much more US Army in the Pacific than Marines, but the Marines have a robust PR machine – to the current day. The Army conducted more amphibious assaults, had more battalions, had more men, etc.

    The 25th infantry division did as well in the Pacific as the Marines. Other Army divisions fared worse, as the divisions deployed to the Pacific were made of National Guard battalions and brigades who were mashed together for the first time, got no proper jungle training, and were reorganized several times.  They lacked cohesion and training. (Many units in the ETO faced similar issues, but had a year or more to train together before going into combat.). After a year or so these guard divisions caught up. Part of that was because the bloodbath was so heavy on Guadalcanal that the Marines never quite got back up to the same quality level as “the old breed.”

    You see the same trend in Vietnam. Those units that deployed from the states as units did very well. Those made of individual replacements not so much.

    The Army learned that lesson. We deployed *units* to Afghanistan and Iraq. Individual replacements were used to fill staff positions, but the front line units came over as units, fought as units, and redeployed as units.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 4 weeks ago by  Buck Surdu.
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