2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

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Phoenix Magazine 28 July 1945

This business of ambushing was another
aspect of the "post-Rangoon" fighting.

.....When surprised the Jap panics; and all infantry weapons can come into play, with effect. During recent operations in Burma, where the Jap has been attempting to escape through to Siam across difficult country, varying from dense, jungle-covered hills of the Pegu Yomas to the flat country by the railway and the Sittang River, there was plenty of opportunity for real work on this proposition, before his big Pyu break-through attempts.
.....As the rains continued, the undergrowth became thicker; a double-edged weapon. It restricted the Jap to certain escape routes. It also allowed him to hide up easily. The task was to learn his movements, and catch up with him before he pushed on, or trap him on his way; in all events to wipe out as many as possible. Now he wasn't using any one route frequently. But he had a practice of sending forward recce parties who marked the way by putting small pieces of paper on branches or scoring trees or simply breaking a branch in a particular way.
.....Then he would come along in roughly this order : first, local guides, tied and taken by force from villages en route; then, following closely, a small party of up to three or four Japs; and after that the main body, 100 yards or so behind, in single file. Escape parties have often been ill-armed and have used anything from local ponies and mules to elephants, for carrying their stores. All these can, and often do, move at night.
.....Our ambushes have had to achieve absolute concealment. Any suspicious noise or movement is fatal. Fire power is best sited in depth, dependent on ground, visibility, the strength of your ambush and a number of Japs on your plate. Once the ambush was set it became a matter of supreme patience, with training and discipline paying rich dividends. Simple and explicit orders would be given. Every man had to know the intention and the exact time of opening fire. The leading guides had to be allowed to get well through and past the ambush. The commander would usually give the signal himself by firing; after that "hell could be let loose" with every man's weapon.
.....There is an interesting, perhaps an amusing, sidelight to that. If some of the men in a "Jap-trap" were inexperienced a sensible rule was that their weapons would not be held at the ready, but placed a yard away. This could make all the difference between an itchy trigger and waiting on the exact signal.
.....Very well. The ambush is sprung. The rifles, the grenades, the brens, the mortars- all do their stuff. And then? The Jap will almost always try some sort of counter-attack. And once surprise was lost and the ambush had done its best or worst there was no value in staying put. The better plan was to withdraw to a pre-arranged and pre-recced rendezvous.
.....Perhaps in this way : in one ambush recently the commander arranged his rendezvous forward of the trap, purely, as it happened, because of considerations of ground. The ambush was sprung successfully. And the counter-movement by the enemy survivors finished up with two separate sections of Japs fighting themselves in the dark, to the restrained joy of the ambush party, nicely established at their rendezvous.



Front Cover
Pte. J. Greenacre of Norfolk, surveys field of fire in ambush near the Sittang River.

Lt. A.C. Soden and Pte. D. Francis
OUR OBJECTIVE: TO STOP THEM. Ambush taken up recently by Platoon Commander Lt. A.C. Soden and Pte. D. Francis.

Pte. A. Quelche
ANNIHILATION of Jap escape party will be helped by Pte. A. Quelche’s mortar sited in rear of this typical Jap-trap north from Pegu.

POSITION COVERED is chaung under railway. Trap was set where footprints and other evidence of Japanese reconnaissance work were discovered by patrol.

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