Topic: Soldiers' Load
Japanese Soldier's Load (1910)
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 21 August 1910
In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity.
Interview of their experience in the Manchurian campaign the Japanese, like most of the other nations, have adopted a khaki field uniform made of cloth for winter gear and of linen for summer use. In general appearance it resembles our own service uniform, but the shade of color is slightly different. The material of the uniform is manufactured in Tokio, in a factory under control of the war department. Thus the Japanese follow the example of the European nations which generally desire to have all factories for making material for the army under government control.
The new equipment of the Japanese army, being the direct result of war experience by a nation of but little conservation or affection for old forms, is naturally of interest to armies in general. The knapsack is retained, which seems a little remarkable to us, who gave it up long ago in its old form. The new form of it resembles the French knapsack, and is of tanned hide, with the hairy side out, and weighs empty about 4.4 pounds. It contains a shirt, sewing material, brushes, etc., two days rations (composed of six small packages of rice, two cans of canned meat, together with the rations of sugar and tea), and 80 rounds of ammunition.
Blanket and Shelter Tent
Around the knapsack the blanket for field use is laid, and on either side a shoe. The overcoat, rolled in the shelter tent, is laid over the blanket. The intrenching implements are carried on the sides of the knapsack and on top of it. When the knapsack is taken off and laid aside temporarily the intrenching tools are carried like sabre scabbards on the belt. The large cooking utensil, made of aluminum, with a capacity of about two quarts, is carried packed on top of the knapsack. The latter, fully packed, including intrenching tools, weighs 30.8 pounds.
Besides the knapsack the soldier carries a canteen on aluminum and a haversack, containing an aluminum dish, a ration of hardtack, a toothbrush, tooth powder, a napkin, paper, a pipe, tobacco, etc., a first aid package, and two little wicker baskets, each containing one day's rations. In three little pouches on the belt 120 rounds of ammunition are carried.
Since the field equipment is very heavy the knapsack, whenever this is possible, is left behind, and transported as opportunity offers on wagons. The soldiers carries into action only the absolutely essential, rolled in a khaki-colored cotton bag, resembling a valise or holdall, called seolsukur. This bag or roll is carried from right to left and contains rations, ammunition, reserve parts and certain necessary materials like soap, etc. The large cooking utensil is hung to it, and the intrenching tools are fastened to the belt. The overcoat is carried on a roll from left to right. The soldier carries only a part of his intrenching tools, either the spade or the pickaxe or hatchet and the saw.
Wire Cutting Tools
The extended use of wire entanglements by the Russians indicated the necessity for carrying wire cutters (a fact which we had already experienced at Santiago), and in every company therefore about 30 men are provided with this implement. The importance of intrenching tools has been more and more emphasized by every campaign since the civil war, where our common soldiers first introduced the subject of their own volition and initiative, but particularly in the Manchurian campaign, Consequently they are generously provided for the Japanese army. The field train carries for each habitation 73 such tools, packed on two horses; every cavalry squadron carries packed on the horses, 12 to 16 hammer hatchets with saws; every engineer company has 215 intrenching tools; the company trains carries 148 such tools, the field battery 85.
The Japanese soldier carries the following weights:
- In heavy marching order in winter, 69 pounds;
- in summer, 66 pounds;
- Without full ammunition supply, in winter, 65.9 pounds;
- in summer, 62.5 pounds;
- When the knapsack is laid aside, but with full ammunition supply, in winter, 55.5 pounds;
- in summer, 52.3 pounds.
Large Cooking Outfits
All kitchen utensils and materials for cooking are carried on pack animals in the regimental train; every company has a field cooking arrangement and a meat pot holding 53 litres and weighting 34.5 pounds, every infantry battalion has five such cooking stoves, one for each company and one in reserve, packed on horses; every squadron and field battery has one packed on two pack animals. These cooking arrangements can also be loaded on wagons, every wagon carrying two.
In every army strenuous efforts are being constantly made to reduce the soldier's impediments without reducing his efficiency in battle, in order to increase his marching and fighting capacity; consequently every new equipment adopted by the armies of the world is studied with much care by the military authorities everywhere, and that of Japan, a nation ready to break away from old forms and without sentiment for obsolete uniforms or methods, is particularly interesting to the rest of the world.