ABSTRACT

The British Commonwealth armies paradoxically lacked any detailed written sources of tactical guidance during the inter-war period about jungle fighting against either a conventional or irregular opponent. Although regular troops had fought in tropical jungle terrain in Africa, NE India and Burma against a variety of opponents during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, few lessons had been recorded in terms of official doctrine. Indeed, during the inter-war period conventional British military wisdom paid little heed towards this subject, despite experience gained during the First WorId War in East and West Africa fighting and the occasional later involvement of British and Indian troops in 'imperial policing'. Neither the War Office nor the local military authorities in the Far East, responsible for issuing guidance in accordance with Training and Manoeuvre Regulations, took any action.] A rapid return to pre-war orthodoxy and acceptance of a new edition of Field Service Regulations (FSR) as the 'tactical bible' meant no guidance appeared on the subject. Like its pre-war edition FSR stressed the applicability of the principles of war to all forms of conflict and only briefly discussed 'bush fighting' against Somali, Sudanese, Burmese and the tribes of the NE frontier of India. Later editions followed suit with the main focus on military thought and training in units, formations and at the Staff Colleges at Camberley and Quetta remaining the lessons of the Western Front.2