Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Jungle Book - Military Training Pamphlet No. 9 (India)

Today's post is an interesting one. It is all about a Military Training Pamphlet issued during WW2 in India to assist commanders in preparing their units for Jungle Battle in East Asia and Asia Pacific region particularly in North East India, Burma, Malaya, Indo-China, Andaman-Nicobar Islands, Papua New Guinea etc. There is an interesting story behind these pamphlets.

Prior to World War II, experience in fighting in the jungle was lacking in both the British and Indian armies as a whole. The knowledge that did exist was largely limited to those officers who has been hunting, an activity often seen as one of the advantages of service in the Indian Army. This did not, however, amount to a viable doctrine. The British Army did not really come into contact with jungle conditions, and within the Indian Army only a few officers encountered the jungle through imperial policing in areas such as jungles of Burma.

A range of books were published at the turn of the century for soldiers fighting irregular opponents in Africa and Asia. In addition, there were the lessons learnt from the East African bush campaign during WWI, but these were not absorbed into training manuals, except for those produced for the African units of the Royal West African Frontier Force and the King's African Rifles. The only source of tactical guidance during the interwar period was the official doctrine used by all the Commonwealth Armies laid down in the 1935 edition of Field Service Regulations, which devoted 2 pages to the subject of jungle warfare, focusing on operations against 'uncivilised' opponents. Jungle warfare on the North-East Frontier of India, during the interwar period of example, only affected paramilitary forces, such as Burma Military Police and the Assam Rifles, fighting irregular opponents. Despite being led by both British and Indian Army officers, none of the tactical lessons learned were disseminated into the mainstream of the British or Indian armies.

The defence of Malaya against a possible overland invasion (a growing threat throughout the 1930s) was the first indication that specialist knowledge of living, moving and fighting in the jungle might be required by regular British and Indian army troops. This threat produced the initial training pamphlets in 1940 which focused mostly on Malaya and a bit about Jungle Warfare. There were two pamphlets produced, one of them was first edition of Military Training Pamphlet (MTP) No. 9 (India): Notes on Forest Warfare. This was not very well written and was mostly on how to tackle 'uncivilised' opponents of Jungle thus it was not widely circulated or read by officers. Over the next two years, more editions were printed and distributed, including imparting some training on Jungle Warfare but there were number of reasons (political/non-political) why there was not much importance given to it.

The real turning point, as far as improving overall standards of jungle training was concerned, was the appointment of the Infantry Committee in June 1943 on the orders of the C-in-C India after the disastrous First Arakan campaign had shown how dire the situation was. The committee studied the problem for two weeks. It blamed the defeats in Burma and Malaya on the 'milking' and expansion of the Indian Army, the failure to recognise the importance of infantry in battle, the lack of basic training and experienced leadership, the fighting on two fronts, the lack of collective training as formations, prolonged periods of contact with the enemy, the lack of trained reinforcements, the problem of malaria and the lack of resources.

The committee accepted the proposal that training divisions be set up in order to teach jungle warfare after basic training. All Indian troops and British reinforcements would now undergo two months jungle training under designated training divisions.

The campaigns in Malaya, Burma and First Arakan had shown that MTP No. 5 on Extensive Warfare and the existing training manuals for jungle warfare were an inadequate basis for infantry training, as the manuals did not fully address new tactical problems such as bunkers. It was not until after the Arakan that periodic Army in India Training Memorandum (AITMs) regularly included sections of jungle warfare and specific training for warfare in this terrain. Even though all these improved quality of training materials still it was found that most of the officers had not read the training manuals or carried out training according to their guidelines.

GHQ (General Head Quarters) India finally produced a comprehensive jungle warfare doctrine with the publication of 1,00,000 copies of the fourth edition of MTP No. 9 (India), The Jungle Book, in September 1943, The new edition doubled the circulation of the previous edition of MTP No. 9. It had a new format that according to General Auchinleck was to be different from the usual, dull training manuals and was aimed at popularising training. It included photographs and cartoons for the first time in order to make it more appealing to officers and men. Its clearly stated purpose was to help COs (Commanding Officers) train their units in the specialised fighting methods needed to beat the IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) in the Jungle, stating: 'In principle there is nothing new in jungle warfare, but the environment of the jungle is new to many of our troops. Special training is therefore necessary to accustom them to jungle conditions and to teach them jungle methods. It gave the examples of jungle craft, physical fitness, good marksmanship and decentralised control as attributes that needed addressing in jungle warfare training.'

The training manual assimilated all the lessons from the previous editions of MTP No. 9 and the AITMs, and included lessons from First Arakan and from American and Australian experiences of fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. The pamphlet was the basis of jungle fighting methods for the remainder of World War II.

The pamphlet was produced by a professional production team employed by the Directorate of Military Training in India. The pamphlet was meant to be readable and appeasing to wartime officers and men, hence it came with a cover displaying a picture of a hand emblazoned with the words 'Good Training' crushing a caricature of a Japanese soldier.

The pamphlet mentioned that it was meant for distribution to all officers and N.C.Os down to corporal of British units and all officers of Indian units. It was 62 page pamphlet not including any of the photographs or cartoons shown.

It said that this pamphlet should be read in conjunction with the pamphlet "Japanese in Battle -- Enemy Methods" and can be regarded as being Part II of that pamphlet.

I am trying to acquire that pamphlet also for my collection. Once I have that, we will cover it in future post.

Shown on right side is one of the cartoon from the pamphlet which cautions allied soldiers before making a quick decision on fate of Japanese soldier lying as dead on ground.

It also talked briefly on different terrains of fighting area. Shown below is a page on Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Here comes the best part of the manual for today's foot soldier (ordinary human like you and me). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the "Appendix G: Notes on Jungle Craft" and "Appendix H: Living on the Country". It reminded me "Man vs Wild" show on Discovery Channel. Most of the examples and illustrations given in the pamphlet under these sections are commonly seen today in practice in most of such shows.

The pamphlet is really great study material and a must of WWII collectors specially those who are interested in WWII literature. It is mostly a military training pamphlet with a bit of propaganda in it. I was looking for this pamphlet for long and am really glad to have it in my collection now.

1 comment:

Simon ELSY said...

Thought I would drop a line as this pamphlet was one my father had amongst his wartime bits and pieces having served in Burma during WW2. Although amusing today, and in the modern world I recall him reminiscing about the jungle, the constant battle with the alien world this was coming from London, and that you never saw a live Japanese soldier as the density of vegetation was such that opposite patrols could pass within feet of one another and not realise this. I recall as a child being fascinated by the sketches and how unbelievable that world appeared to be. His wartime effects were stolen many years ago but seeing your PDF scans has brought back memories.

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