Clip:  I saw jeeps driven along the beach within plain view of the CAPE ENDAIADERE and the Japanese, and with one of our headquarters located in a native village just back from this beach. I saw men paddling collapsible Australian assault boats in the same area without any military reason, this all in broad daylight and much Japanese air activity, and with the knowledge of their officers and under their observation.

Missouri_North_Korea_Deployment2

USS Missouri, Korea, 1950  Image Wikimedia Commons

HEADQUARTERS
ARMY GROUND FORCES
Army War College
Washington, D.C.

February 20, 1943

SUBJECT: Observer’s Report.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND was the best example that I observed on my entire trip. It has large and extensive cocoanut palm groves planted in regular rows. None of the military installations among them could be seen from the air and the island gave the impression of being uninhabited….

CANTON. This island is entirely of white coral and all camouflage is dull white. It was, therefore, not well camouflaged and its military installations are quite visible from the air, appearing to be vulnerable from both air and sea. The morale of the officers and men on both CHRISTMAS and CANTON ISLANDS was very high, considering the conditions of their service….

NEW GUINEA….During my observations on New Guinea I was constantly impressed by the lack of camouflage discipline and the lack of appreciation of the necessity of concealment by men and the lack of instruction and correction to improve their conditions.

I saw jeeps driven along the beach within plain view of the CAPE ENDAIADERE and the Japanese, and with one of our headquarters located in a native village just back from this beach. I saw men paddling collapsible Australian assault boats in the same area without any military reason, this all in broad daylight and much Japanese air activity, and with the knowledge of their officers and under their observation.

Men were permitted to roam about naked to the waist with their white skins showing plainly. Mess lines were formed in partially open areas about messes, with men naked to the waist and their mess gear reflecting the sunlight. At the approach of an unidentified plane the men would mill about and reveal their positions by movement. Shelter tents in many cases were pitched alongside the track with no attempt at concealment….

The Japanese are outstanding jungle fighters and past masters in the art of camouflage, and we could well emulate their thoroughness in these things…..

The Japanese is primarily a night fighter and does much of his reconnaissance under cover of darkness. He will do these things in heavy jungle growth, with many conditions similar to night fighting. This necessitates a perimeter defense with all dependence placed upon sound instead of sight. A perimeter defense avoids the danger of infiltration under cover of darkness and protects the flanks and rear of the unit so disposed.

Our mental attitude was that the jungle was a hazard and an obstacle to be overcome. To the Japanese the jungle was an aid to his warfare. To us a river was an obstruction, to the Japanese the river was a means of crossing and he was instructed psychologically to think this way.

Source: Colonel Herbert Laux, Infantry, Observer from Headquarters Army Ground Forces to Southwest Pacific Theater, “Observer’s Report,” February 20, 1943.

Image:  USS Missouri, Korea, 1950.  Wikimedia Commons

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