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TM-E 30-480: Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text and illustrations are taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Technical Manual. As with all wartime manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the original technical manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

Chapter VIII: Supply, Movements and Evacuation

Section I: Supply

1. OUTLINE OF SYSTEM OF SUPPLY. a. General. (1) The executive control required for maintaining a force in the field is provided by the services, under the supervision and direction of both the Administrative Staff and the Transportation Section (or Department) of the General Staff. The Chief of the General Staff is responsible for planning and policies, and the Transportation and Communications Bureau of the General Staff is responsible for the technical details of both land and sea transportation to implement the Chief of the General Staff's plans.

(2) The services—intendance, ordnance, medical, and veterinary—each have their respective bureaus (Directorates) in the Ministry of War, and are represented by their staffs on the lines of communication, army, division, and unit headquarters.

(3) In the Japanese Army, the Intendance Bureau in the Ministry of War is responsible for the supply and maintenance of provisions (rations and forage), equipment (clothing etc.), and pay; the Ordnance Bureau, for the supply and maintenance of arms, ammunition, engineer and transport equipment. The transportation of supplies, except within the forward units, is controlled by the Transportation Section of the General Staff. The transport of supplies within the forward units themselves is undertaken by the transport regiments and the various trains, such as the regimental and battalion trains.

(4) Variety in means of transportation is a characteristic of the Japanese Army; animal transport is largely used, and the most commonly employed vehicle is a 2-wheeled cart with a carrying capacity of 400 to 500 pounds. In mountainous country or places where roads are absent, pack horses are frequently used. In jungle terrain, the use of porters is common. Throughout the island areas of the Southwest Pacific barges and small craft are extensively employed. Motor transport is found where roads are available, though its exclusive use anywhere is exceptional.

b. Functions of lines-of-communications units. (1) The line-of-communications units establish and maintain a series of supply and evacuation centers along a main supply line (road, rail or waterway) extending from the communication zone, (or from the base ports of an oversea force), forward into the areas of the front-line divisions. Their general functions are—

(a) To establish depots, where required, for the handling of all classes of supplies.

(b) To receive, stage, ration, and forward men and animal replacements.

(c) To receive, store, and forward supplies.

(d) To evacuate casualties, prisoners of war, surplus supplies, salvage, and captured equipment.

(e) To provide medical and veterinary service for transients.

(f) To assess local supply resources and to requisition them as required.

(g) To provide local defense of line-of-communications establishments.

(2) The layout of a line-of-communications system is shown in figure 150. It will be noted that supplies may be passed direct from the base to the field-maintenance center (sea, road or rail-head), or an advanced base may be interposed when the line of communications is long and liable to interruption; also that the introduction of supply relay points is dependent upon the necessity for changing the type or method of transportation between various delivery centers.

[Figure 150. Japanese supply system and layout of lines of communications.]
Figure 150. Japanese supply system and layout of lines of communications.

c. Line-of-communications headquarters, depots and units. (For more detailed organization see chapter III.)

(1) Line-of-communications headquarters. The headquarters administers the line of communications and its branches as ordered by the army line-of-communications command. It is able to provide up to 14 line-of-communications branches (garrison or sector units).

(2) Line-of-communications garrison (or sector) units. Branches are formed in order to decentralize the administration on a long line of communications. The number required will depend on the distance from the base of the force being supplied. Each branch will be given its own headquarters and signal communications and includes a combat defense force.

(3) Line-of-communications signal units. Usually there are two or more companies, the personnel of which are allotted to the line-of-communications headquarters and branches.

(4) Combat units in reserve. Used to provide local protection and escorts as required along the line of communications.

(5) Transportation units. (a) Line-of-communications transport units—land.

1. Line-of-communications transport headquarters, also referred to as field Transport Headquarters or commands, administer several transport regiments and several transport supervision detachments.

2. Independent transport companies (draft horse transport). Each company has a carrying capacity of about 60 tons and a strength of about 350 men. They are attached on the approximate scale of 4 per division with a variable number for army troops.

3. Independent transport companies (motor transport). Each company has approximately the same carrying capacity as a wagon company and a strength of about 200 men. They are attached on the scale of 1 per division with a variable number for army troops.

4. Independent transport companies (pack horse transport). When necessitated by the terrain, pack-horse companies are employed. The carrying capacity of two pack-horse companies equals that of one wagon company.

5. Provisional transport units. These are engaged in transporting food, supplies, and ammunition to line-of-communications dumps but may be attached to armies or divisions. In the Southwest Pacific Area many of these units are formed as required and often have to operate without motor transport or horses. Each unit contains from 200 to 800 men.

6. Line-of-communications transport-supervision detachment (transport escort—unit). Provides personnel necessary to organize and command locally commandeered transport facilities. A transport-supervision detachment, with a strength of about 200, may operate 6 or 7 locally-formed transport companies.

7. Railway units (railway commands, railway regiments, armored train units, etc.)

8. Tractor units.

(b) Line-of-communications transport units (sea).

1. Shipping headquarters. All water transport is under the Shipping Headquarters, a branch of the Transport Section of the General Staff. The headquarters is located at Ujina, a port near Hiroshima in Japan, and allocates, as well as commands the various units necessary for the preparation of transport vessels and the actual operation of sea transportation. The following units are under its command:

Shipping groups.
Shipping transport headquarters (or commands).
Shipping transport area headquarters.
Anchorage units.
Shipping transport battalions.

2. Shipping groups. These branch offices, established by the Shipping-Transport Headquarters, are located at the principal base ports—Singapore, Manila, and Rabaul—in theaters of operations. They control a variable number of Shipping engineer regiments and debarkation units.

(a) Shipping Engineer regiments. These units are used for getting troops and supplies ashore, particularly in landing operations. They operate barges, speed boats, armored craft. etc., and man the craft on coastal and inter-island runs. Strength is approximately 1,100 men with about 150 assorted small crafts.

(b) Debarkation units. The functions of these units are vague. They would appear to be responsible for the actual unloading and landing of troops and supplies on and from the transports to the small craft operated by the shipping engineers, when no anchorage unit is present as in the case of landing operations. Strength is approximately 1,000 men.

3. Shipping transport headquarters (or command). These are directly responsible to the shipping headquarters at Ujina. Shipping transport headquarters are located at the principal base ports where they are responsible for the required installations such as wharves and warehouses, the fueling and provisioning of ships, the storage of cargoes (exclusive of unit equipment), and the planning and writing of sea transport in conjunction with the Navy. They also supervise the embarkation of troops.

4. Shipping transport area units. These units control shipping ordnance, antiaircraft artillery, and signal troops detachments of which are assigned for the defence and armament of shipping and for intercommunication within and from convoys on transports.

5. Anchorage. These units are port administrative organizations. They are located at the principal base ports as well as at the smaller bases. In addition, they may establish branches at small subsidiary bases. Anchorages are composed of a variable number of so-called Land Duty. Sea Duty and Construction Duty Companies.

(a) Land duty companies. These are stevedore companies of approximately 350 men.

(b) Sea duty companies. These are barge and lighter operating units of approximately the same strength as the Land Duty Company.

(c) Construction duty companies. These are used for general construction work, such as roads, warehouses, etc.

(d) As there might appear some confusion between the duties of Debarkation Units and Anchorages, it is well to remember that the former are responsible for getting troops ashore in actual landing operations where port facilities may be non-existent, whereas the latter function in established areas.

6. Shipping transport battalions. It is assumed that these units are responsible for the operation of small craft, other than those operated by the shipping engineers.

(6) Ordnance units. (a) Field ordnance depots. These depots stock, issue, and repair ordnance equipment and supplies other than ammunition, motor transport, and air stores, and collect and dispose of ordnance salvage. A depot is able to provide 2 branch depots and 4 advanced sections, and may have 4 mobile repair sections attached. Branch depots are installed at field maintenance centers (sea, road, or rail-heads) and at advanced bases during temporary maintenance stage. On a line of communications for a single division, a field ordnance depot combines the functions of the field ordnance depot and the field ammunition depot. In this case it is able to provide one advanced section and one mobile repair section.

(b) Field ammunition depots. These depots stock, issue and repair all types of ammunition, chemical warfare equipment, and salvage. A depot is able to provide 2 branch depots and 4 advanced sections. Branch depots are installed similarly to the Field Ordnance Branch Depots.

(c) Field motor-transport depots. Furnishes and maintains motor transport.

(d) Field shipping ordnance depots. See under "Shipping Transport Area Units."

(7) Intendance units. (a) Field freight (supply) depots. Also known as Field Clothing and Ration Depots, they stock and issue rations, forage, canteen supplies, clothing, etc., and make, repair, and sterilize clothing. They collect and dispose of the same type of salvage. A depot is able to provide two branch depots and four advanced sections and may have 4 mobile clothing repair sections attached. Branch depots are installed similarly to the field ordnance branch depots. On a line of communications for a single division a field supply depot includes the functions of a field medical supply depot. It is able to provide one advanced section, and may have one mobile clothing repair section attached.

(b) Pay. The Intendance Service is responsible for the pay and accounts of the Army.

(8) Engineer units.

Engineer stores depot.
Field road construction unit.
Field construction units.
Field fortification units.
Field water supply units.

(9) Personnel.

Labor and carrier units.
Field military police units.
Personnel for staging camps.
Personnel for labor camps.

(10) Army Air Force.

Field air depot.
Field air repair depot

(11) Remount.

Horse purchasing depot.
Field remount depot.

(12) Medical and Veterinary. (a) Line-of-communications Hospitals and field reserve hospitals. These have a capacity for 500-1,000 patients each. If necessary each type of hospitals can be divided into two hospitals.

(b) Line-of-communications Veterinary Depots. These have a capacity for 700 horses.

(c) Field Medical Supply Depots. These stores, issue and repair medical supplies, patients' clothing, veterinary supplies and horse shoes. A depot is able to provide two branch depots and four advanced sections. The branch depots are usually installed similarly to the Field Supply Branch Depots. On a line of communications for a single division, the field supply depot may combine the functions of the field supply depot and the field medical supply depot.

(d) Casualty Clearing Stations.

(e) Ambulance Transport Units,

(f) Field quarantine department.

(g) Veterinary quarantine hospital.

d. Maintenance of line of communications (see fig. 150). (1) General. The supply columns of a line of communications are organized, loaded and dispatched from the base area of the base depots. The base area is seldom moved; however, an advanced base may be interposed when the line of communications is long or liable to interruption. The forward terminal of a line of communications is the point where the units transfer their supplies to the divisions transport regiments. The forward terminal is kept as close as possible to the front line and may be either the Division Maintenance Center (the more normal) or the Field Maintenance Center, whichever is the more accessible.

(2) Maintenance terminals on the line of communications. (a) Advanced base (see figures 150 and 152). The establishment of an advanced base will depend on the maintenance requirements of the supported force; the length of the line of communications, the possibility of enemy interference, and climatic conditions. Advanced depots of the base installations are usually represented at the advanced base.

(b) Supply Relay Points (see figures 150 and 152). These points are established on the line of communications as required. The organization of each will depend on its location on the line of communications and the weight of traffic to be handled. Relay points are maintained for reloading and dumping supplies, as staging points for transients, and as terminals and technical maintenance points for transport echelons.

Figure 151. Field Maintenance Center (sea-, road-, or rail-head).

(c) Field Maintenance Centers (see figures 151 and 153). These are also referred to as either Sea, Road or Railheads. Their size and organization will depend upon the size of the force being maintained, and the extent to which reserve stocks must be held in the area. Main service depots will be normally represented here by their branch depots or their advanced sections.

(d) Division Maintenance Centers (see figure 150). With the division administrative area are located ordnance and supply depots under the control of the division administrative staff.

[Figure 152. Japanese advanced base served by a railway system.]
Figure 152. Japanese advanced base served by a railway system.

e. Operation of line-of-communications supply system (see figure 150). Supplies are shuttled between Relay Points, Division Maintenance Center and from the Field Maintenance Center in one of three ways, depending on the distance between each.

(1) A loaded supply column moves forward from the supply Relay Point next closest to the Division Maintenance Center, unloads its supplies, and returns empty to the Relay Point for reloading.

[Figure 153. Supply Relay Point.]
Figure 153. Supply Relay Point.

(2) A Supply Column moves empty from one Relay Point to the Relay Point nearest to the Field Maintenance Center (assuming more than one Relay Point is established between the Divisional Maintenance Center and the Field Maintenance Center) loads and returns to its original Relay Point for unloading.

(3) (a) A loaded supply column moves from the Field Maintenance Center directly to the Divisional Maintenance Center, by-passing the Relay Points, if any. This method is considered to be the most expeditious.

(b) When the rate of advance of the force being supplied necessitates a forward movement of the depots, this is generally done by pushing forward a branch or advanced section of the main depot and after the forward branch has been established and functioning, the balance of the depot will be moved up.

(c) Supply Relay Points are introduced when the type and method of transportation between delivery points or terminals must be changed, or when reserves must be held in the rear of the Field Maintenance Center but forward of the Base or Advanced Base and between Divisional Maintenance Center and Field Maintenance Center. For example, during the Japanese occupation of Guadalcanal, in 1942, the advanced base was Rabaul and a relay point was established on Shortland Island. The Field Maintenance Center was on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. Supplies were delivered from the advanced base or direct from Japan to either the relay point or the Field Maintenance Center. The size of the force, the nature of the campaign, the quantity of stores to be held in reserve, and the extent to which permanent maintenance has replaced temporary maintenance will modify the layout of the line of communications. Thus at one stage the Division Maintenance Center may operate at the Field Maintenance Center, supplied direct from base or advanced base. Then as the force advances, the Division Maintenance Center may move forward, and the Field Maintenance Center may be developed as an advanced base.

2. SUPPLY IN THE FIELD. a. Maintenance requirements. (1) There are few or no figures available (except on rations) which indicate the exact maintenance requirements of the Japanese soldier in the field. As in all Armies, maintenance requirements will vary depending on the theater of operations. It is generally accepted that the daily requirements of the Japanese soldier are considerably less than for soldiers of the Allied Forces.

(2) Ration and ammunition may be considered the principal items of daily requirements. The weight of the Japanese ration (except emergency ration) is approximately two-thirds that of the American ration, or slightly above 4 pounds. Ammunition requirement is also smaller due to less employment of artillery by the Japanese, however, it is worthy of note, that the Japanese estimate as high as 4.2 pounds a day per man for active operation, compared with 5.17 pounds for United States forces. In the southwest Pacific Area, the daily ammunition requirement of the Japanese has been estimated by Allied Forces to be as low as 1 pound a day.

(3) As to other items of maintenance requirements, there is no agreement as to the exact amounts required. In the absence of detailed information no definite amount can be stated, but in making an estimate it is well to keep in mind that there is no substitute for many of the daily requirements and in the absence thereof, the ability to fight is considerably curtailed. For example, without fuel the Japanese cannot operate. The item of fuel is given as an illustration to show that while the individual soldier may be able to live for awhile on emergency rations, he cannot survive unless other necessary supplies are brought. Any estimate which leaves out fuel is therefore likely to be erroneous. While allowing for variation in need, it should be remembered that there are many irreducible requirements in operation. Roads cannot be used, ordinarily, without repair and the poorer the road the greater the need for repair. Likewise medical attention cannot be neglected if health is to be maintained. The Japanese realize the necessity of meeting daily requirements and their doctrine states that it is well to establish Advanced Supply Bases wherever possible.

(4) To summarize while no definite figures can be given at this time for daily requirements, due consideration should be given to all essential items when an estimate is attempted. The daily maintenance requirements have been roughly estimated from 10 lbs. to over 30 lbs. a day per man, depending on the operation and availability of local supplies.

b. Rations and forage. (1) Garrison. In garrison the Japanese ration consists of about 1.25 pounds of rice and a certain amount of barley plus a cash allowance which is made for each soldier to be spent on the purchases of meat, fish, and vegetables. This ration is both varied and adequate. On maneuvers rations are somewhat increased. The following are common constituents of the purchased ration:

(a) Cereals and staples. Rice, wheat, barley, canned rice cakes, canned powdered rice dumplings, canned rice boiled together with red beans, biscuits, hardtack, vitamin biscuits, sugar, soy bean flour.

(b) Canned meat and seafood. Beef, salmon, sardines, mackerel, seaweed, clams, trout, tuna fish, cod livers, seaweed and beans packed in layers, crab meat.

(c) Dried meat and fish. Flounder, salmon, bonito, squid, cuttlefish, laver meat.

(d) Canned fruits and vegetables. Tangerines, pineapples, bamboo sprouts, bean and burdock, boiled lotus root, sprouted beans, arum root paste, spinach, mushrooms, beanflower, mixed vegetables, carrots.

(e) Vegetables and fish in barrels. Pickled salted plums, pickled radishes, sea cucumbers in curry powder, smelts in oil.

(f) Dried fruit and vegetables. Apples, carrots, Chinese greens, red beans, onions, potato chips, mushrooms, squash, kelp.

(g) Seasonings, etc. Soy bean sauce, dehydrated soy bean sauce, soy bean paste, vinegar, curry powder, salt, ginger.

(h) Beverages. Tea, sake, condensed milk.

(2) Field. (a) Rations and forage supplies in the field may be both "imported" or "local." The former are manufactured and purchased by base supply depots operated by the Intendance Bureau in Japan. The latter are obtained by purchase, requisition, or confiscation. The field ration in the Japanese Army is fixed by regulation as consisting of the following:

1. Standard, or normal field ration (total, about 4 1/8 pounds), consisting largely of rice and barley, fresh meat and fish, fresh vegetables, and various condiments and flavorings.

2. Special field ration (total, 3 pounds), consisting largely of rice, dried, canned, or pickled items. This ration is the one most likely issued in combat.

3. Reserve (emergency) ration: Class A (total, 2 1/4 pounds) consisting of rice, canned meat, and salt; Class B (total, 1 3/4 pounds) consisting of rice or hardtack, canned meat, and salt.

4. Iron rations, weighing about one-half pound for one meal, include special Japanese biscuits and extracts that have been successfully tried out in various climates.

5. Nutritious rations, consisting of extra amounts of all kinds of food are allowed to men who need them.

6. Substitute items according to a regular system.

7. Supplementary articles, to be issued as available, consisting of cigarettes, either sake or sweets.

(b) There are indications that the average ration in active theaters is about 3 1/2 pounds, and that because of failure of supply, this ration has often been reduced to a half or third of the normal amount. The Japanese use local provisions whenever possible and encourage the local cultivation of vegetables by units. Vitamin pills are a part of the regular issue, and delicacies, especially canned fruits, are issued occasionally.

Type Item  Standard 
Vegetable Fresh21.2----
PicklesVegetables, etc2.11.8--
Condiments Salt.18.18.18
Bean paste(2.6)1.1--
Total   64/693 40/453 ( 4 )
( 5 )
Fuel: 2.8 oz per man.
Water (drinking and cooking) 4-6 liters (4.2 to 6.3 quarts U.S.) per man.
1 Pieces.  2 Quarts.  3 Ounces.  4 34/38 Ounces (A).  5 28/31 Ounces (B).
Figure 154. Table of ration scales. All weights are in ounces. Items in parentheses are alternatives in the same type of commodity.

(c) The calorie content of the above Japanese rations has been calculated as being as follows:

Standard ration3,470  
Special ration3,540  
Reserve ration (A)3,140  
Reserve ration (B)3,000  

1. Method of supply of rations. The system forward of the base area is shown in figure 150, page 174. From the field supply depots the line-of-communications transport units carry provisions to the division maintenance area, where the division transport regiment picks them up and carries them to supply points, usually in regimental headquarters areas. Here supplies are broken into unit lots and issued to units under the supervision of the Intendance personnel. The unit trains carry them to forward delivery points, which may be unit or company kitchens.

2. In peacetime under normal conditions 5-days rations were carried at one time: 2-days on the man, 1-day by the unit train, and 2-days by the division transport regiment. In active theaters the amount of rations carried by forward troops is apparently ordered for each operation, and is a combination of special field and emergency scales varying from 3 to 10-days rations. The method of transportation varies locally, but supplies are packed for ease of handling in bags or packages no heavier than 88 pounds or larger than 9 cubic feet. In the southwest Pacific Area, provisions have been floated ashore from barges or destroyers in drums and in rubber bags holding 132 pounds.

(3) Forage. The standard amount of forage per horse per day is approximately 10-12 pounds of grain, 9 pounds of hay, and 8 pounds of straw, but normally only the grain is taken into the field.

c. Ammunition. Provision and handling of ammunition is an Ordnance service responsibility. The system of supply is shown in figure 150, page 174. Bulk ammunition is stocked and issued in the base area by ammunition depots; in the forward line-of-communications through the Ordnance Depots. Distribution on the forward line-of-communications is much the same as for rations. The line-of-communications transport units carry from field ammunition depot or field ammunition branch to the division maintenance area where an ammunition column of the division transport regiment picks up regimental bulk supplies and transports them to the ammunition point. Here, unit requirements are issued under supervision of the regimental ordnance staff to unit or regimental ammunition parties, who in turn hand over to battalion ammunition parties, again under supervision.

d. Fuel, oil and lubricants. These are Ordnance issues, handled through ordnance depots, field motor-transport depots and field motor transport branch depots, to the division maintenance area. Fuel is transported in the Southwest Pacific Area by tanker or cargo vessel in either bulk or in drums up to 50-gallon capacity. Storage and filling is done in advanced base areas.

e. Ordnance. Engineer stores are supplied through their respective service depots.

f. Medical and veterinary supplies. Medical stores, which include medical supplies and patients' clothing, are handled through field medical supply depots and branch depots to the line-of-communications medical units or to the division maintenance center for forward medical units. Veterinary supplies are similarly handled through field veterinary supply depots to veterinary units.

g. Army Air Force maintenance. Army Air Force supplies of all kinds, excluding rations, are handled by the Army Air service personnel and are provided from an Army Air service maintenance or branch depot in the base area. In the advanced base area are located army air service arsenals (or air maintenance stores) which include a workshop section. These issue to field air supply parks and field air depots on the forward line-of-communications, which in turn issue to the air force units. Field air repair depots are also established on the forward line-of-communications for technical maintenance, assembly, and repair of aircraft stores.

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