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Battle Orders 9: Japanese Army in World War II, Conquest of the Pacific 1941–42

by Gordon L Rottman

Published by Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-789-1, 96 pages.

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Here is a good, detailed look at the Japanese Army at the beginning of the Pacific fighting. Actually the story begins rather earlier, with a look at how the Imperial Army was created back in 1870s and its story up to 1941 including the fighting in China. The combat mission for the new campaign is then examined, with details of the divisions involved and a fighting history of each one.

Next is a look at doctrine, which turns out to be mainly based on the attack and often involved underestimation of their enemies’ capabilities. Unit organisation at all levels follows, with notes on unit designation, task force organisation and tank regiments. The latter includes a table showing the tank types in each regiment at this period, very useful!

Tactics are then examined, fairly briefly since they seem to have mainly consisted of aggressive close action. This was frequently by a frontal attack, even though encircling movements were recommended and often successful. Next is a chapter about weapons and equipment, with artillery and tanks included as well as small arms. Command and communications come next, and then we move on to a long chapter on combat operations. Here most if not all of the Japanese attacks are examined, from the Philippines, Bataan and Corregidor to the Dutch East Indies, Borneo and New Guinea. Malaya, Singapore and China are not included, but perhaps they will be in one of the further books promised. Here there are plenty of maps to show the course of each campaign, with orders of battle for each force.

So little has been published on this period of the Pacific War, and most of it concentrating on Bataan and Corregidor, that this book is a must-buy for anyone interested in the early fighting.


John Prigent

More details from Osprey Publishing

Read an extract at Osprey Publishing

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