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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2882

Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/4/2017 10:19:17 AM
It's hard to visualize the IJA riding bikes through jungle to move troops quickly & quietly, to catch the Commonwealth forces off guard? What say you about this unusual tactic, and were there any other instances where unusual transit won battles? (perhaps Hannibal using Elephants against the Romans!?)

[Read More]

What say you?
Yikes bikes!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/4/2017 10:53:48 AM
British and Canadian troops landed at Normandy with bicycles.

Even commando units had them but I understand that they were discarded pretty quickly.


Highland Light Infantry of Canada, Normandy




So why would an army choose to use bicycles? What would influence the decision other than lack of motorized transport?

Did the Japanese use them because of the geography over which they had to travel? Perhaps the terrain was not suitable for truck traffic even if they had them and the fuel to operate them.

Perhaps it was to allow them to move quietly without making a lot of noise or dust?




En route to Singapore



wazza
Sydney , Australia
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 351

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/4/2017 5:03:59 PM
Certainly not a quiet method of transport.
Australian accounts of the Malayan Campaign have many anecdotal references to hearing the Japanese troops coming down the road, as they were on the bare rims of their bicycles.
It certainly assisted in one major ambush of Japanese troops by the 2/29th. Amazing unit diary accounts of this tragic campaign by the way.

I believe bicycles were a very cheap and efficient means of transporting troops, and if the roads were too rough, you could carry your transport until it become more traversable again.

In Indo-china the Viet Minh certainly moved huge amounts of supplies via bike.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1398

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/4/2017 9:12:02 PM
MD (and George), bicycles make a lot of sense to me, to be honest. Blown tires and rim noise aside (great image you conjured up, Wazza!), depending on terrain a bicycle could move light troops as rapidly as trucks could over short distances.

We tend to forget that during WW1 and for much of WW2, mobility was usually shod rather than fueled. Check the number of horses involved (or lost) in the Polish campaign. Or in any campaign, really. A truck is a wonderful hauler until it breaks down, runs out of fuel or blows a tire. A horse (or any of its cousins: burros, asses, ponies, etc.) can carry men, supplies, ordnance and medical needs, but has some drawbacks. All these creatures need to be fed. Stabled (when possible). They are sensitive creatures, and do not respond well to war. But with a cycle, what a win! No food or shelter needed. No emotional bonding between rider and ridee! No smell when they disintegrated and were dropped by the wayside.

I don't know enough about the jungles of the Malay peninsula, but it was determined to be difficult for tanks. I think the Japanese overcame that difficulty (just as the Germans overcame the impenetrability of the Ardennes).

But more important, IMHO, is the effectiveness of the IJN in using landing craft to leapfrog down the coast of the peninsula, which IMHO offers at least one answer to MD's question:
Quote:
were there any other instances where unusual transit won battles?
IMHO, this was brilliant. It was Blitzkrieg with an added dimension, and was never used so effectively again. Maybe – like the blitzkrieg tactic itself – it had a short shelf-life.

The US may have borrowed the technique during it's island-hopping campaign against Japan, but on a scale so vastly larger it is hard to make an accurate comparison. The real similarities are in the inter-service cooperation, rather than in the short-term effectiveness of each approach. I sense, for instance, that Japan faced a tactical challenge (how to isolate and destroy enemy troops in order to gain a specific objective.If this is valid at all, I can't see US military admitting borrowing the enemy's playbook. The US (and is Allies) were facing a means of minimizing the need to fight the enemy. Is "island-hopping" attributed to Nimitz or to MacArthur? Because while I think it was a brilliant concept, I sense it may also have been somewhat derivative.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 6:49:04 AM
I was thinking about the Kangaroo, the first Armoured Personnel Carrier. Not purpose built, other armoured vehicles including the American M7 "Priest" self-propelled guns, Ram tanks, and Churchill tanks to name a few, were cut down and used to transport troops

All of these vehicles were called Kangaroos and became very popular with British and Commonwealth armies.

Gen. Guy Simonds of the Canadian Army is credited with the use of an APC in great numbers to reduce casualties on the battlefield.

British and Canadian troops had been taking heavy casualties in Normandy and especially after Caen fell. Operations to seize Falaise had bogged down so Simonds ordered the 72, M7 "Priests" that had been borrowed from the Americans to be stripped down and used as APC's.

They were employed in Operation Totalize which initially overwhelmed the Germans before petering out.

What was discovered when the casualty lists were drawn was that the casualty rate was much lower for the troops riding in the Kangaroos than for the men on foot. As well, as the tanks advanced, the use of the Kangaroo meant that infantry could keep up with them.

The "priest" Kangaroos were used again in Operation Tractable and the Canadians were convinced of the value.

But the M7's had to be returned to the Americans so obsolete RAM tanks were repurposed in the same role. A conversion shop was quickly created and 100 Ram tanks were shipped to it from GB.

So the first APC's, (armoured and tracked) were not vehicles developed for the purpose. Any armoured vehicle that was repurposed for carrying troops became known as a Kangaroo.

A M7 Priest Kangaroo in Italy with British troops




A converted Ram tank Kangaroo (not auxiliary turret}



So enamoured with the Kangaroo were the Canadians that the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron was established in 1944. The squadron was expanded to regimental size and became attached to the Brits. Don't know why.

Here is a shot of that unit carrying British troops.



Eventually, weaponry was added like a Browning MG. The Canadians intended these to be fighting vehicles rather than buses.
In the first war, the Canadians had seen the advantage of motorized fighting vehicles with mounted MG's.

So were these the first APC? The Bren Gun carrier certainly carried men. So did the US half-track.

The Kangaroos were born of necessity and look nothing like the modern APC's that we see today.


Cheers,

George









George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 7:24:00 AM
There were a wide variety of amphibious landing craft developed by the US during WW2.

Some of these were sent to the British under lend-lease.

The Brits also developed at least one called the Terrapin.

These LVT's, landing vehicle tracked became important means to cross rivers and canals in Europe.

And of course, the US marines needed them as well.

Alligator




Was the Buffalo a different design or a modification of the LVT-1?




British Terrapin (not tracked)




DUKW. (not sure where this fits in to the evolution of these vehicles. It's not tracked is it? The development of the Terrapin came about because there weren't enough of the DUKW's available. The US needed a lot of them in the Pacific War. The Terrapin had problems but was needed.




Here's an interesting shot of alligators passing a group of Terrapins in the Battle of the Scheldt.



Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2882

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 9:58:50 AM
George,

Deserts presented a unique situation for military movements using vehicles like you profess! I personally liked the Desert Jeep for fast and evasive attack capabilities!

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Sad the use of horses in campaigns as Brian suggested!

[Read More]

War Dogs were also amazing!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 403

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 2:45:30 PM

Quote:
There were a wide variety of amphibious landing craft developed by the US during WW2.

Some of these were sent to the British under lend-lease.

The Brits also developed at least one called the Terrapin.

Alligator

Was the Buffalo a different design or a modification of the LVT-1?


"Alligator" was the name given by Roebling to his original rescue vehicle. It was never an official US military designation. That was Landing Vehicle, Tracked (LVT). Buffalo was a British designation for LVT received via Lend-Lease.


Quote:
DUKW. (not sure where this fits in to the evolution of these vehicles. It's not tracked is it? The development of the Terrapin came about because there weren't enough of the DUKW's available. The US needed a lot of them in the Pacific War. The Terrapin had problems but was needed.


DUKW is also not an official US military designation, but is rather a General Motors corporate designation. D is the design year (1942). U is the type vehicle - in this case Unconventional (amphibious). K was the drive system - all wheel. W was the axle type - two powered rear axles. In the same way the famous "deuce and a half" truck was actually the CCKW - 1942, conventional, all wheel drive, two powered real axles.


richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 403

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 3:00:19 PM

Quote:
I was thinking about the Kangaroo, the first Armoured Personnel Carrier. Not purpose built, other armoured vehicles including the American M7 "Priest" self-propelled guns, Ram tanks, and Churchill tanks to name a few, were cut down and used to transport troops

All of these vehicles were called Kangaroos and became very popular with British and Commonwealth armies.


Technically, Simonds' APC were called "Unfrocked Priests" for obvious reasons. It was the Ram that became known as the Kangaroo. Churchill's were not used as APCs.


Quote:
British and Canadian troops had been taking heavy casualties in Normandy and especially after Caen fell. Operations to seize Falaise had bogged down so Simonds ordered the 72, M7 "Priests" that had been borrowed from the Americans to be stripped down and used as APC's.


It actually caused a bit of a stink afterwards. Technically, the M7 were on "loan" rather than official "Lend-Lease". They were provided from ETOUSA stocks when it was found there would not be enough 25-pdr SP (Sexton) available for the invasion. They were supposed to be returned to the US in original condition so they could then be issued to US units as intended. Imagine their surprise when they arrived sans weapons and with the aperture for the howitzer plated up.


Quote:
So enamoured with the Kangaroo were the Canadians that the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron was established in 1944. The squadron was expanded to regimental size and became attached to the Brits. Don't know why.


Because it was a 21 Army Group asset allocated to operations as required.


Quote:
So were these the first APC?


No that would be the Mark IX, designed by Lt. Rackham as an adaptation of the Gun Carrier Mark I. None were used in combat.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 4:13:18 PM
Thanks for the background information Rich.

I did think that the Americans were first asked by the Canadians whether the modification to their equipment was OK and they approved. These were Canadians after all. We should expect no less

Actually Simonds idea was forwarded to Crerar who then bounced it off 21st Army group. I presume approval came from that level. Who contacted the Americans, I do not know.

It is usually written in Canada that Simonds "invented" the Kangaroo. It was a good idea and proved its worth. I think that he was looking for a means to allow infantry to keep pace with the tanks in Totalize.

There were extensive casualties in the attempts to seize Verrières Ridge. I believe that the Canadian army could not sustain casualties at that rate so Simonds sought some way to minimize risks. He came up with the modifications to the Priests.

Correct me please if needed but my memory tells me that Simonds asked the engineers to determine whether it was possible to do what he wanted. The engineers, near Bayeux, modified the Priests and demonstrated them for Simonds.

The project was code named Kangaroo or rather the advanced engineering workshop was code named Kangaroo. (source: Canadiansoldiers.com)

The conversion of 76 of the Priests began on Aug. 2. On Aug. 3, the first one was driven to Simonds for his inspection. 76 were converted by Aug. 6. This is remarkable because it was estimated that each conversion would take 100 man hours.

All of the work was done about 20 miles from the start line of Totalize by about 250 men.

Some interesting information here on the approval process and the modifications.

[Read More]

I understand that the Canadians did leave the mounts for the guns on the Priests but by the time that the Americans got the vehicles back, they were well used shall we say.

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 4:29:54 PM
I thought that this was an interesting badge for a Canadian to wear. No maple leaves for these men.

1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment



richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 403

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 5:08:57 PM
http://www.mapleleafup.net/histories/1cacr/index.html

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5550

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 7:03:30 PM
Thanks for the link, Rich. I had trouble making it work on a cut and paste but I typed it in and it worked. Go figure.

George

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 537

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/5/2017 10:09:50 PM
Dave the bikes were Yamashita's idea because of the limitations in shipping he was given. I'd have to check the numbers but it boiled down to he was allotted X number of transports for troops, equipment and supplies and that is all he could get with very limited resupply capabilities. To make more room for supplies of ammo and food he substituted the bikes for the majority of trucks organic to his infantry units. Shipping was the deciding factor to the point that he didn't take one of the infantry division offered because if he had he wouldn't have been able to supply it nor have enough supplies for the force he did take. It was all about the logistics.

Edit the second picture of Japanese troops walking their bikes shows saddle bag like setup over the rear wheel. From my reading just about all of them had to carry about 100 pounds or more of supplies above and beyond their personal equipment on the bike.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2882

Re: Japanese use Bicycles to help win the Battle for Singapore!?
Posted on: 11/15/2017 2:45:33 PM
Hi John,

Thanks for the interesting facts, your right, bikes are light weight, don't take up much space, and are very efficient if the terrain is right, plus easier to carry supplies! BTW I once had a Fuji Japanese made bicycle, it was very light weight, & well made!

The IJA must have scouted the land scape,
and known bikes would work well in such conditions??

Cheers,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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