Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 06 Jan 2013 19:50

Maybe somebody knows.

1. Strength of IJA infantry squad and platoon - was it officially changed during the war? I know, that 1936 TO&E specified for war time 4 15-men squads (3 rifle, 1 grenade discharger) in platoon + 2-men HQ. Was this organization oficially changed later?

2. 1944 US intel handbook on IJA claimed, that standard platoon of reserve ("B") division has 13-men squads. What was the reason behind such reduction only in reserve divisions? Lack of trained manpower?

User avatar
fontessa
Member
Posts: 3684
Joined: 25 Mar 2011 16:29
Location: Yokohama, Japan

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by fontessa » 06 Jan 2013 21:21

Good morning Eugen Pinak:
Eugen Pinak wrote: 1. Strength of IJA infantry squad and platoon - was it officially changed during the war? I know, that 1936 TO&E specified for war time 4 15-men squads (3 rifle, 1 grenade discharger) in platoon + 2-men HQ. Was this organization oficially changed later?
According to Army Regulation "A" No.55 ”Fiscal Year 1941 Mobilization Plan" dated November 22, 1940, the organization of an infantry platoon was as follows.
- Command Section: details are not clear
- 1st ~ 3rd squads: 13 men with a light machinegun and 11 rifles
- 4th squad: 12 men with 3 heavy grenade dischargers and 9 rifles
Eugen Pinak wrote: 2. 1944 US intel handbook on IJA claimed, that standard platoon of reserve ("B") division has 13-men squads. What was the reason behind such reduction only in reserve divisions? Lack of trained manpower?
The platoon organization of "B" division was the same as the above.

fontessa

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 07 Jan 2013 13:24

fontessa - thank you very much!
Also I'm sure, that mobilization plan does not state reasons behind this or that decision, but maybe you've seen and explanation, why squad size was reduced?
- Command Section: details are not clear
- 1st ~ 3rd squads: 13 men with a light machinegun and 11 rifles
- 4th squad: 12 men with 3 heavy grenade dischargers and 9 rifles
Do you know - is this organization remained the same until the end of the war?
I've seen mention, that in 1945 grenade dischargers squads were disbanded and its' soldiers (and grenade dischargers) were included in 3 "line" squads - but the source of this is not very reliable.

User avatar
fontessa
Member
Posts: 3684
Joined: 25 Mar 2011 16:29
Location: Yokohama, Japan

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by fontessa » 07 Jan 2013 21:40

Good morning Eugen Pinak:
Eugen Pinak wrote: I know, that 1936 TO&E specified for war time 4 15-men squads (3 rifle, 1 grenade discharger) in platoon + 2-men HQ.
,why squad size was reduced?
Unfortunately I can't see the organization table in 1936. Because I can't confirm them, I can't answer the question. If I dared to have guessed, the Army reduced the number of riflemen, in order to increase the number of divisions.
.
Eugen Pinak wrote: Do you know - is this organization remained the same until the end of the war?
By Army Regulation "A"s which were issued in early 1945, many divisions and independent mixed brigades were organized or re-organized for the preparations of "本土決戦 Battle of Japan Mainland". Some divisions had the same organization as that of 1941. Others had somewhat different organizations as follows. Command sections were omitted in the below.
◇ Type I for 機動打撃師団 Mobile Striking Divisions
- 1st ~ 3rd squads: 13 men with a light machinegun and 11 rifles
- 4th squad: 13 men with 3 heavy grenade dischargers and 10 rifles
◇ Type II for 沿岸配備師団 Coast Deployment Divisions
- 1st and 2nd squads: 6 men with 2 heavy machineguns
- 3rd ~ 5th squads: 8 men with a light machineguns and 7 rifles
- 6th squad: 10 men with 3 heavy grenade dischargers and 7 rifles
The source is Senshi Sosho "本土決戦準備 The Preparations for Battle of Japan Mainland".
Eugen Pinak wrote: I've seen mention, that in 1945 grenade dischargers squads were disbanded and its' soldiers (and grenade dischargers) were included in 3 "line" squads
All divisions and independent mixed brigades were to have "grenade discharger squads" on the equipment tables. But I guess that some of them were not organized because of the shortage of heavy grenade dischargers.

fontessa

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 09 Jan 2013 21:12

Fontessa - thank you once again. As usually with Japanese military, reality is way more interesting, than any fiction :)
Unfortunately I can't see the organization table in 1936.
According to Soviet secret intelligence publication (dated 1938) about new organization of Japanese infantry division, according to the new TO&E, introduced by IJA in 1936, platoon was organized as follows:
1) Platoon HQ:
- platoon commander,
- liaison NCO.
Note:
a) I have strong suspicion, that "liaison NCO" actually means "deputy platoon commander"


2) 1st - 3rd rifle squads, each:
- squad commander (rifle, spare barrel),
- LMG aimer (pistol, LMG),
- assistant LMG aimer (rifle),
- LMG crew (pistol, tripod for LMG),
- LMG crew (rifle),
- LMG crew (rifle),
- LMG crew (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman (rifle),
- rifleman-chemical warfare specialist (rifle),
- rifleman-liaison (rifle).
Notes:
a) there is no mention of ranks of individual soldiers - only positions;
b) I have strong suspicion, that "rifleman-liaison" actually means "deputy squad commander";
c) in peace-time squad had only 11 soldiers (2 LMG crew and 2 riflemen less).


3) grenade discharger squad (no number):
- squad commander (rifle),
- rifleman-chemical warfare specialist (rifle),
- rifleman-chemical warfare specialist (rifle),
- 4 GD teams, each:
-- GD aimer (rifle, GD),
-- GD crew (rifle),
-- GD crew (rifle).

Notes:
a) there is no mention of ranks of individual soldiers - only positions;
b) that in peace-time squad had only 11 soldiers (1 GD crew in each team less).


Not, that document state, that as in 1938 this organization was introduced only for cadre ("A") divisions of the IJA - and even there not completely yet. Reserve divisions have reduced TO&E.

thomastmcc
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: 09 Jul 2006 10:38
Location: falkirk in scotland

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by thomastmcc » 09 Jan 2013 23:08

hello mate if your interested in TO&Es etc i own the yahoo groups on the subject see the link below..

thomas

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/TOandEs/

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 09 Jan 2013 23:53

Yes, I know this group - after all, I am a member of it :)
But while I still occasionally browse it for TO&Es of western countries, but can't remember any specialists for IJA organization there. So I've decided to ask questions where I have better chances to get correct answers - after all, there several knowledgeable IJA specialists from Japan on this forum.

User avatar
hisashi
Member
Posts: 2037
Joined: 12 Aug 2003 14:44
Location: Tokyo,Japan

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by hisashi » 10 Jan 2013 03:05

I believe in any country, depleted company sets up ad hoc formation. For example if a company has only 20 survivors, the leader makes up two or three groups and name a leader for each, setting aside whether he call each as a platoon or squad. In such a situation nobody stick to authorized organ in the company.

The principle and exception was upside down in IJA, in small formations. IJA simply ruled that a company shall be subdivided into platoons and squads. They did not issue appointment paper to platoon leaders, and instead attached 3-4 officers under company leader (he himself received an appointment to so-so company leader). More rigorously, Taitsuki(attached to company) officers received appointments 'at the disposal of so-so regiment', though personnel management staffs were conscious that their number was as that required in companies they had. So company leader could change the number of platoons in his company.

And it is why, as fontessa showed, the standard composition of platoon/squad must be included in wartime mobilization plan.

On the other hand, in infantry drill manual, artillery drill manual and similar specialized papers IJA showed standard composition for each weapon teams. Often it was in fact a standardized squad or even platoon. But in manuals they avoided to specify the number of personnels in each squad as far as possible not to restrict flexible adjustment. The following is an example of 37mm infantry gun squad shown by Taki.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... l#p1589865
I've seen mention, that in 1945 grenade dischargers squads were disbanded and its' soldiers (and grenade dischargers) were included in 3 "line" squads - but the source of this is not very reliable.
So it does not mean IJA issued new KStN for all IJA troops. In a troop they did so, for example, to spare the number of scarce NCOs suitable for a squad leader.

liaison NCO in platon was mainly responsible for the connection to company HQ. (infantry drill manual article 147)
a) there is no mention of ranks of individual soldiers - only positions;
Yes. It was up to company soldiers' choice and how rich reinforcement they received in wartime.

[quoteb) I have strong suspicion, that "rifleman-liaison" actually means "deputy squad commander";[/quote]
You are right. 'No.1' soldier in each squad assisted the leader and if necessary the leader let No.1 to command a part of squad. Perhaps Soviet referred to No.1 there.

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 11 Jan 2013 10:54

I believe in any country, depleted company sets up ad hoc formation.
Indeed. But I am researching squad-platoon level organization, so I want to find out, how generals of this or that country viewed TO&E organization of the infantry.
So far I've managed to find out, that all countries apparently had problems with replenishing infantry units, so most infantry units were constantly under strength.
The principle and exception was upside down in IJA, in small formations. IJA simply ruled that a company shall be subdivided into platoons and squads. They did not issue appointment paper to platoon leaders, and instead attached 3-4 officers under company leader (he himself received an appointment to so-so company leader). More rigorously, Taitsuki(attached to company) officers received appointments 'at the disposal of so-so regiment', though personnel management staffs were conscious that their number was as that required in companies they had. So company leader could change the number of platoons in his company.
So, as an example, lieutenant Yamada Taro in army list was mentioned, as assigned to "regiment #", while in the list of his regiment he was mentioned, as assigned to "company #". And only his company commander decided, that he will command 1st platoon of the company. Right?
liaison NCO in platon was mainly responsible for the connection to company HQ. (infantry drill manual article 147)
Thank you. But if platoon commander was killed, it was his duty to take command of the platoon, right?
I have strong suspicion, that "rifleman-liaison" actually means "deputy squad commander";
You are right. 'No.1' soldier in each squad assisted the leader and if necessary the leader let No.1 to command a part of squad. Perhaps Soviet referred to No.1 there.
I see - thank you. It's interesting, that Soviet publication doesn't mention soldiers' numbers at all, while mentioning their numbers is a rule in IJA drill manual.

BTW, Hisashi - nice userpic :) I also like Historians team in "Girsl und panzer" :milwink:

User avatar
hisashi
Member
Posts: 2037
Joined: 12 Aug 2003 14:44
Location: Tokyo,Japan

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by hisashi » 11 Jan 2013 13:11

, as an example, lieutenant Yamada Taro in army list was mentioned, as assigned to "regiment #", while in the list of his regiment he was mentioned, as assigned to "company #". And only his company commander decided, that he will command 1st platoon of the company. Right?
Yes. I believe so.
Thank you. But if platoon commander was killed, it was his duty to take command of the platoon, right?
Maybe temporally, but in general not necessarily. I found a brief recall of an IJA seageant, whose first job as a corporal was platoon liaison NCO. After fog of war was gone, somebody (company commander etc.) must have named a senior officer/warrant officer/NCO to a deputy leader, and liaison NCO was sometimes very junior. In IJN they had a rigorous seniority rule (gunrei shoko-rei 軍令承行令), but in IJA the rule was somewhat ambiguous.
I see - thank you. It's interesting, that Soviet publication doesn't mention soldiers' numbers at all, while mentioning their numbers is a rule in IJA drill manual.
Numbering personnels is a basic method to teach where he should be in the marching column, so I think this practice was very old, though it had little to do for their daily life. In 1940 infantry drill manual No.2 was a LMG gunner and No.3-No.4 were LMG ammo suppliers. Soviet document in 1938 might be an old system.
BTW, Hisashi - nice userpic I also like Historians team in "Girsl und panzer"
In Japan military buff are getting older and older because youths cannot compete with grown-ups with a pile of source book. Some military writers made an effort to break this situation by girls-rich military publications, comics and finally animations. Strike Witches series made a commercial success and enabled them to realize Girls and Panzer.

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 11 Jan 2013 18:38

Hisashi - thank you once again. Now with your and Fontessa help I've got some understanding of IJA small infantry units organization.
I found a brief recall of an IJA seageant, whose first job as a corporal was platoon liaison NCO. After fog of war was gone, somebody (company commander etc.) must have named a senior officer/warrant officer/NCO to a deputy leader, and liaison NCO was sometimes very junior.
So platoon liasion sergeant was not the most senior NCO in the platoon, like platoon NCO in western armies?
In Japan military buff are getting older and older because youths cannot compete with grown-ups with a pile of source book. Some military writers made an effort to break this situation by girls-rich military publications, comics and finally animations. Strike Witches series made a commercial success and enabled them to realize Girls and Panzer.
From the amount of military books I've seen in Tokyo bookshops I would've never guessed, that situation is not good with number of military history enthusiasts. But I've heard, that both "Girls and Panzer" and "Strike Witches" are quite popular, so maybe some of the fans of those will look for "real" military history?
BTW, I think Japanese anime market is lacking some naval-related anime - like one based on "Battleship Girl" manga maybe? :)

thomastmcc
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: 09 Jul 2006 10:38
Location: falkirk in scotland

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by thomastmcc » 11 Jan 2013 19:23

Eugen Pinak wrote:Yes, I know this group - after all, I am a member of it :)
But while I still occasionally browse it for TO&Es of western countries, but can't remember any specialists for IJA organization there. So I've decided to ask questions where I have better chances to get correct answers - after all, there several knowledgeable IJA specialists from Japan on this forum.

sorry mate didnt know after all there is 3500 members !! .. :D

User avatar
hisashi
Member
Posts: 2037
Joined: 12 Aug 2003 14:44
Location: Tokyo,Japan

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by hisashi » 12 Jan 2013 03:31

Hi thomastmcc,

Perhaps I, Taki and fontessa are Japanese native, though some members are familiar with Japanese publications. I am wehrmacht enthusiast and only know what averaged Japanese military buff knows and what can be easily found by Japanese google. Once we had Lt.Amuro but he has not visited here for several years. We are something of Lonesome George.
So platoon liasion sergeant was not the most senior NCO in the platoon, like platoon NCO in western armies?
I have read 'Starship Trooper' and I know what you say. The example I referred was a brand-new company so it might be exceptional. A combination of novice platoon leader and senior platoon seageant seemed typical as you imagined.

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 13 Jan 2013 19:09

thomastmcc
sorry mate didnt know after all there is 3500 members !!
It's not surprising - in such a group, unless you are really regular poster, there is simply impossible for other members to know you.

hisashi
I am wehrmacht enthusiast and only know what averaged Japanese military buff knows and what can be easily found by Japanese google.
That's the trick - average Japanese military buff may know things, non-Japanese military buff can't even guess about. For example, I knew about mobile and static divisions in 1945, but until you've told me so, I didn't even wondered, if those divisions had different platoon TO&Es.
So platoon liasion sergeant was not the most senior NCO in the platoon, like platoon NCO in western armies?
I have read 'Starship Trooper' and I know what you say. The example I referred was a brand-new company so it might be exceptional. A combination of novice platoon leader and senior platoon seageant seemed typical as you imagined.
I see. But I meant not the usual situation, but, again, TO&E. AFAIK, in all Western countries "green" platoon NCO was thing, next to impossible, because:
1. regulations prescribed, that he is to replace platoon commanding officer in case of need - so platoon NCO was chosen from the sergeants, who already had experience of commanding the squad,
2. TO&Es usually prescribed, that platoon NCO will have rank one step higher, than squad commanders, which again recuired seniority and experience.
So by both regulation requirements and rank seniority, platoon NCO in Western armies was superior to sergeants, commanding squads. In IJA, it seems, that was not necessary the case. Of course, it seems logical for company commander to appoint most experienced NCO to assist platoon commander - but neither regulations nor TO&E demanded from Japanese company commander to do it and he could appoint most experienced NCO in the platoon to command the 1st squad, for example. At least what I was able to "decipher" in IJA manual here, no special assignments are given to platoon NCO, save liaison itself.

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 1048
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Some questions about infantry platoon organization

Post by Eugen Pinak » 09 Jul 2014 17:54

It's interesting to note, that Japanese infantry and cavalry squads had 2-men crew of squad machine-gun armed with pistols. In most other countries only machine-gunner was armed with pistol (sometimes he had no other weapon, than his LMG), while British armed with rifle even machine-gunner (clumsy solution indeed).
Regarding the fact, that all nations considered LMG as the main source of squad firepower, such an arrangement probably helped Japanese squad, as another man without rifle had no distractions from helping machine-gunner.

Return to “Japan at War 1895-1945”