• My thought as well, or Korea or Manchuria.

      The Japanese Army earned a reputation in the Boxer Rebellion, both for bravery… and the sort of foolish stubbornness which they displayed in WWII.

      As I recall, during the relief operation, various nations’ armies were assigned particular gates into Beijing to breach. The USMC (or 9th Cavalry, I forget) had one, the British another, and the Japanese another.

      The Americans were able to force their gate with comparative ease, whereas the Japanese got a gate defended (if I recall correctly) by Chinese regulars armed with modern weapons. The Japanese made multiple attempts to seize the gate, incurring heavy casualties. Seeing the Japanese bogged down, the Americans (and possibly the British) contacted the Japanese commander and informed him that they’d broken through, inviting him to bypass the point of resistance by using one of the other gates. The Japanese commander politely declined, stating that they’d been assigned to take THAT gate, and fully intended to… which they eventually did with great loss of Japanese life.

      A lot of newish weapons appeared on the battlefield in the Boxer Rebellion, including 6mm Lees, 30-40 Krags, Mauser 98s, and various machine guns, including the odd Skoda. The Chinese forces used literally everything from bare handed kung fu, to broadswords (ta tao), to giant “jingal” muzzle loaded wall guns, to Commission 88s.

      I’ve been fascinated by the Boxer Rebellion ever since I saw “55 Days at Peking” as a small child. Anybody interested in the campaign would do well to get a copy of the Osprey book on the subject. There are lots of good pictures as there are in most of the Osprey titles.

      • That should probably be 9th Infantry, still known today as the “Manchus”, and with a dragon motif on their insignia and belt buckles.

        • The 9th, 14th, and 15th Infantry Regiments got campaign credit, along with the 6th Cavalry Regiments and various artillery and support units; and of course US Marines were present both inside Peking and in the relief expedition (mostly from the Philippines and from some US Navy ships in the area).

          For an odd Chinese slant on the whole thing:

          * “Boxer Rebellion”, made in Taiwan in 1976. It’s a kung-fu movie, with a mighty strong anti-Japanese slant.

      • Even without looking into resources to refresh my shabby knowledge: boxer revolution was at around 1919-1920. It gave start to indigenous democracy movement led by Sun-yatsen and later general Chang-keishek. It was aimed mainly against western powers imperial ambitions in china. The first war between (fractured) China and Japan was in early thirties in following of Shanghai accident. It is on record that Chinese units trained by German tutors did very well.

        so, Japanese could have hardly get involved as early as during Boxer’s.

  1. At least these troops aren’t being indoctrinated with watered-down “death-cult” version of Bushido (I hope). They are holding Type 22 Muratas, judging by the Kropatschek-styled tubular magazine.

    The guy staring at the camera seems tempted to punch the photographer in order to save his ammo.

    • From what I’ve read, the Japanese Army prior to the 1920s and 1930s, was very concerned to seem “modern” and “civilized” in the eyes of the European powers. During both the Russo-Japanese War and WWI, they had a very good reputation for their treatment of Russian and German POWs respectively. Their treatment of Asians, Chinese especially, was much more brutal, but then so was that of the Germans during the Boxer Rebellion, and the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War.

      It wasn’t until later that the really serious crackpot racialism and institutional sadism took hold.

  2. I’d say that very likely no one would have told them what direction to face.

    I’ve studied the Japanese military some. From what I’ve read, they didn’t have nor needed the around the clock type of discipline that those of the Western militarys have. When battle came, the cultural instilled discipline of the Japanese work.

    For example when marching to an area, the Japanese allowed each member to stop for water, to get firewood, etc whenever they desired. And everyone was where the needed to be when needed.

    The ‘lost’ Wisconsin division from the War Between the States is an example of why we have the discipline we have. During that war a division of Wisconsin Norwegians were being march to the South thru Chicago. Things went something like this:

    Jon says to Ole “Look there’s a bar!!!. Let’s go get a beer and I’ll buy”.

    Ole replies “That’s a great idea!!!”.

    After one beer Ole has to buy Jon one. Two quick beers only make a man want more. Which also leads to bar fights, jail, brothels, etc. And the next sunrise.

    Almost the whole division did this. There after, the Wisconsin unit of Norwegians and Germans weren’t march to the South thru Chicago.

    • It’s too bad the politicians and military leaders on the opposing sides weren’t put in the same situation. Let them get drunk together and have it out in a bar fight while painting the town red, and we might all be spared most of the unnecessary and foolish bloodshed of innumerable wars.

      • I think this will only work between autocracy states(but all the beloved glorious great leaders are always too precious to let them fight alone).
        Between democracy states it’s too hard to get most people drunk, or un-drunk.

    • “For example when marching to an area, the Japanese allowed each member to stop for water, to get firewood, etc whenever they desired. And everyone was where the needed to be when needed.”

      Things really started to change in the ’20s and ’30s when virtually Al Qaeda style cultism and sadism began to flourish.

      A standard practice in IJN aviation warrant officer school was to collectively punish classes by having alternate ranks about face and punch each other in the face, with petty officers patrolling the formation with baseball bats to make sure that nobody was “shamming”.

      Sadism and brutality began with the Japanese themselves, and was simply pushed downward until the privates at the bottom had only foreign civilians and POWs onto whom to displace their own abuse.

      • If I remember correctly, this, and other forms of extreme discipline and physical conditioning was designed to put the emphasis on making the IJN fighter pilots the best in the world, because the ability to maintain one’s unflinching mental and physical balance under the worst possible duress was seen as key to success in air-to-air combat.

        These events are quite well-recorded in the memoirs of Japanese ace Saburo Sakai in the biographical books “Samurai” and “Zero”, co-authored by Martin Caidin ; David Bergamini in his two-volume dissertation “Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy” also specifically refers to the regimen of the “Misty Lagoon” ( translated ) Fighter Pilots’ School in the same terms. Caidin later incorporated elements of the history of the “Misty Lagoon” school into his epic novel, “The Last Dogfight”, as seen from the personal standpoints of both antagonists.

        It should be noted that in spite of the brutal initial treatment that they experienced in the training schools, Japanese naval aviators were often noted for being more humane and far less harsh towards their enemies than certain elements of the Army. Even within the Army itself, a close examination of the historical record indicates that the vast majority of atrocities and bad behaviour can be laid squarely at the feet of units that had direct political affiliations with certain right-wing members of the Emperor’s Cabinet, and also Emperor Hirohito himself.

        For example, a particular Army Division engaged in a campaign might be nominally under the aegis of the Corps Commander, but more often than not, that particular Division Commander would only give lip service to the Corps Commander’s orders because he was really answerable to the whims of an influential political or military cabal. A prominent example of this can be found in the history of Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s 25th Army during the Malayan Campaign and the subsequent Battle For Singapore. Lieutenant-General Takuma Nishimura’s Imperial Guards Division had been assigned to Yamashita as part of the 25th Army, but it is a matter of record that Nishimura was often at loggerheads with Yamashita and frequently dismissed the latter’s direct orders out of hand, proceeding to carry out his role in the campaign as he saw fit. Lieutenant-General Renya Mutaguchi, commander of the 18th Division under Yamashita’s 25th Army, was little better in this respect. Yamashita had been very emphatic about the absolute need to treat civilians and POW’s respectfully, but Nishimura felt himself to be under few such obligations due to his direct links with the ultra-nationalist, right-wing imperial faction within the military, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s government and the Emperor’s Cabinet. One of his close allies was Field-Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi, Commander-In-Chief of the Southern Expeditionary Army Group and Yamashita’s superior. Both had been affiliated with the Kodoha and Strike-North Factions, which advocated a form of ideologically pure totalitarianism involving unification of the Emperor, the people, the land and social / spiritual morality as one. The erstwhile opponents of the Kodoha and the Strike-North Faction, namely the ultra-conservative Toseiha and Strike-South Faction, were ironically no better. The difference was that they represented a more materialistic approach to Japanese political ambitions in the form of uniting capitalist and industrial assets with military force and strong political will to make Japan a dominant power — in other words, just a different philosophical pathway toward achieving a similar end goal. The notorious Colonel Masanobu Tsuji and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo himself were well-known members of the Toseiha Movement, as was Mutaguchi, who was barely more obedient to Yamashita than Nishimura. This insubordination from both sides towards Yamashita’s express orders would manifest itself in incidents during the Malayan Campaign and Battle For Singapore such as the Parit Sulong Massacre ( wounded and captured Australian and Indian troops ), and the massacre of unarmed hospital staff and wounded soldiers and civilians at the Alexandra Barracks Hospital, over which Yamashita had little, if any, control. In the end, with Singapore and Malaya occupied, the notorious Kempeitai under Lieutenant-Colonel Oishi Masayuki carried out its edict of civil oppression as part of the Sook Ching Massacres ( immigrant Chinese civilians ), probably with specific direction from highest authority under the guise of a general order ostensibly issued by Yamashita’s Chief-Of-Staff, Sosaku Suzuki, which would have been completely out of character for Suzuki. At this point, even Yamashita himself came out and spoke of the need to impose severe measures against dissenters. Looking more closely at this seemingly contradictory behaviour and examining related evidence, it appears that both Yamashita and Suzuki were forced to tacitly support these measures against their will by powers much higher than themselves. The same happened to General Homma, Commander Of The 14th Area Army, in the Philippines. Conscientious commanders who tried to do the right and humane thing were effectively obstructed and bypassed in their efforts by these direct political links between officers below them, on the one hand, and ultra-conservative senior officers and politicians above them ( of both factions ), on the other.

        Unfortunately, the voices of reason and open-mindedness were crushed between these competing nationalist movements. The torturous convolutions of politics in pre-war Japan were the direct result of all this. Professional officers such as Yamashita, Homma and Suzuki ( and later, men like General Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Colonel Nishi ) were inadvertantly caught in this incredibly complex web of political and military intrigue that often interfered with their ability to do their jobs properly ; they were forced to constantly maneuver around political pitfalls in order to survive long enough to carry out their duties, and even then they were frequently hobbled by seemingly contradictory and senseless directives from above. This untenable situation also meant that they were often made glaring examples of by the post-war Allied War Crimes Tribunals, which in turn had their own political axes to grind. To complicate things further, good officers would voluntarily take responsibility for war crimes not of their doing, or at least beyond their control, out of an unquestioning sense of loyalty to the Emperor. Thus, all interested parties were reasonably satisfied — the tribunals, because identified “war criminals” ( both those truly guilty and the not guilty ) had been punished to allay public anger ; many of the real perpetrators who drove the impetus resulting in those crimes, because they were now free to go on as before ; and, ironically, even the accused who were not guilty, because they felt they had done an ultimate service for their Emperor.

        • Before I forget, there is a very good and comprehensive analysis of the myriad reasons for Japanese atrocities and ill-treatment written by Jim Nelson entitled “The Causes Of The Bataan Death March Revisited”. It can be found at http://www.philippine-scouts.org and will come up in the form of a Microsoft Word document. Surprisingly, Nelson’s quest to understand this topic and write about it was driven not only by the fact that his own father was a survivor of Corregidor and the POW camps, but also by Japanese historians and researchers ( including some war veterans ) who have been openly critical of their government, its policies both past and present, and certain aspects of their own culture that have allowed such things to happen.

      • Part of the mistreatment of POW’s was the utter disdain for anyone who would surrender. And that goes back to the strong sense of “honor” that was ingrained in the Japanese. They could not imagine dishonoring themselves by surrendering, so anyone who did wasn’t worthy of life. Granted it takes more than disdain for surrender to lead to the satanic atrocities that they committed, but it figured into it.

        That sense of “honor” is still in the Japanese today. A software person I know, who has set up systems all over the world, said that the Russians would get in a room and see who would scream the loudest to determine if a project should get the green light, the Chinese would steal anything they could get their hands on, and the Japanese could never make up their minds, and had to do everything as groups–they were horrified of any potential failure that might be blamed on them.

        The town I grew up in had several Battan survivors. That area had a national guard unit that went to Corrigedor just before the fighting started. One of them was the grandfather of a freind of mine. What is if note was that you did not hear anything about their experiences–they just did not want to talk about it.

  3. Over the years, I’ve seen various photos like this one, of different nationalities, often posed in a “three view” format to display their uniforms, arms and equipment. The whole series seems to have been taken in 1900 during the rebellion. Anybody know if this information is available in book form? Or anything else about it?

  4. While watching the movie “55 Days at Peking” at the very end during the march by there was a brief view of a missionary with wife and two children. My wife commented “That’s my grandmother!” Her grandmother had been at the siege as a small child with here missionary parents. And she was a tough and contrary old lady too! Bill

  5. my old regiment was at the gate 1st battalion royal welch fusiliers . after the fighting the us marines and Rwf became brothers in arms to this very day

  6. I wonder if the reason that the Type 30 Arisaka rifle (first adopted in 1897, 30th year of Meiji, hence the “Type 30” designation) hasn’t replaced the Type 22 Murata here is Japan’s lack of natural resources. If you were constantly short on materials needed for new rifles and ammo, you probably wouldn’t try to replace every long gun at the front line. Anyone disagree?

    • I think that’s a pretty good deduction on your part. The superpowers of the time that were involved in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion initially regarded the rebels as little more than posturing dissenters, and would not have deemed them worth the expenditure of first-line resources. Of course, as the Rebellion prolonged itself, they began to realize how potentially serious it had become.

      • Earl, here’s something I found out. When the Boxers started attacking foreigners, they attacked with Kung-Fu (hence the name). But when the Imperial Chinese Forces joined the Boxers, they brought modern equipment such as Mauser and Hanyang (Chinese Gewehr 1888 variant) rifles, Krupp artillery, new explosives not based on black powder, and a couple of new ships. The Chinese had also learned some tricks from the Europeans, like pincer movements and sniper postings. But the lack of training of the average Imperial Chinese soldier and the incompetence of their officers (most of whom thought foreign armies were as stupid as bandits and armed only with swords and spears, perhaps) led to Chinese units getting their butts handed to them by smaller foreign units.

        This was no surprise, given that Japan handed China its butt during the First Sino-Japanese War. Corruption of the Chinese generals of their armies (no national army, if I recall) led to the soldiers having a mix of modern and traditional weapons. Seriously, it was bad enough that the Dowager Empress was embezzling the Beiyang Fleet’s funding to build a palace. So much for strength in numbers.

        So during the Boxer rebellion, I can picture the following for a hypothetical battle:

        Allied soldiers patrolling an area get ambushed by Boxers and soldiers of a local Chinese Warlord Army. The Allied soldiers shoot the Boxers dead first (no kung fu for you)and retreat to a machine gun nest. Chinese soldiers charge screaming into a machine gun-and-quick-firing artillery trap and get ventilated. Chinese retreat crying uncle. Sound unrealistic?

        • There was also considerable dissension within the Chinese ranks.

          As I recall, Jung Lu, a powerful adviser to Empress Tsu Hsi, withheld some of the best trained and equipped regular troops from the fight. He knew that the Chinese were never going to defeat the Western powers in their extant state of corruption and chaos, and even if they managed to take the legations and massacre the embassy staffs, that would only provoke an even more devastating response.

        • Hi, Andrew :

          Your analysis is pretty much spot-on, especially regarding the corruption and fractiousness engendered by the warlords. The hypothetical scenario probably held true for a lot of the rebels and their Army allies, at least at the beginning. There were probably some units that resisted the eight-power intervention more fiercely with some degree of success, thanks to a combination of better local leadership, arms and equipment, and training, but the majority were quite mediocre as you have observed.

  7. How can you get all these troops facing one way with just TWO commands???
    Fall Out!!!
    Fall In!!!
    Note: The command, Attention!! is not needed – at the command Fall In!! troops automatically assume the position of Attention…some things you learn in basic never leave your memory…

    CB in FL

  8. The worlds first international force relived the diplomatic qarter in Peking in 1900. this force, was very fotographed. a book of the pictures are pupliced. this could be a picture from this force.

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