View Full Version : Guerrilla espionage tactics in WWII

06-06-2014, 11:44 AM
Hi guys!

I'm in the process of editing my manuscript. Right now though, I'm having better success by turning it into a web comic, but anyway, I am encountering some plot holes especially in regards to guerrilla espionage tactics used during World War II in the Pacific.

Here's the scenario. A guerrilla woman has been detained in the mansion of a Japanese officer. Said Japanese officer is in love with her and they become lovers, but the guerrilla woman is after access to his documents, and she gets this after she gains his trust. Now, since she's known to be a prisoner, any ideas how she can relay all the information she has to her comrades outside?

I've thought about pigeons, but that would be too obvious if they flew in and out of the window too often.

I'm out of ideas I'm afraid. Hope someone can help. Thanks!

06-06-2014, 07:33 PM
It depends whether a simple code of say a dozen possible messages is all that's needed, or if complicated unforseeable messages are required.

In the former case, the woman is undoubtedly required to do some laundry and so on, and a pattern of particular colors of items of clothing strung out to dry could be a signal viewable from a long distance away.

For detailed messages, in the absence of a radio, and also assuming the woman's motions are restricted, the only obvious alternatives are: 1) paper and a place to leave it where it can be retrieved -- a dead drop outside the mansion where the woman is nevertheless allowed to go, and 2) a confederate who can come and go -- day maids, delivery people, gardeners, and so on.

Is this someplace with a government like Manchukuo, or someplace recently occupied like the Philippines? It will make a difference, no doubt, to the usage of the mansion. Is it a temporarily commandeered structure used for convenience during wartime, or is it indeed an official residence of the officer in a Japanese-governed region? That might determine whether the bulk of the servants are natives or are just Japanese enlisted men, though presumably it will be crawling with troops either way.

King Neptune
06-06-2014, 10:10 PM
The location makes a lot of difference. There were fairly regular messengers to and from some places, while other areas were rather isolated. If the woman was a guerrilla, then I assume that she know others and could get someone to carry papers to a rendezvous with a PT boat, or similar.

06-07-2014, 07:34 AM
Depends on a lot of factors: country, urban/rural location, strength of Japanese military presence, military activity, overall resistance by indigenous population, foreign assistance and training. The US/Allies provided intelligence and guerrilla warfare training to Southeast Asian countries within the Japanese sphere of influence.

Operatives would need to be much more careful in urban locations with a large Japanese military presence, no military operations and active counter-intelligence operations. These operatives would focus on getting high value intelligence that could aid the war effort domestically and abroad to Allied powers. Operatives would need to be less careful in rural locations with a small Japanese military presence, active military operations and no counter-intelligence operations. These operatives would focus on domestic sabotage and hit-and-run attacks.

As far as techniques, Google information on OSS tactics in WWII Germany/France and Cold War Soviet satellite republics. Be warned that operations in the West were far more sophisticated than those in Southeast Asia.

Another useful reference would be Green Beret/indigenous operations in Vietnam during the American Vietnam War. They typically involved training and arming oppressed, isolated tribesman or recruiting women whose families had been killed by hostile forces to seduce military officers and report intel.

06-07-2014, 12:02 PM
Even better, look at the tactics used by the independence movements fighting against the European colonial powers in the post-war era, as well as the Communist Chinese tactics against the Nationalists during 45-49.

06-07-2014, 04:03 PM
Wow thank you so much for these detailed responses guys! I should've been more detailed as well in terms of the location.

This is in Manila, Philippines, around 6 months before the end of the war. So definitely in the middle of an urban area.

The messages are mostly about the names of guerrillas to be hunted down, time and location of raids, things like that, and real info on the recent victories from the Allies as opposed to Japanese propaganda. So yes, pretty complicated messages are need to be sent.

I have been thinking of a cook or a maid as well. I just need a way to integrate him/her in the story because this will be completely different from what I had originally written, which my husband had told me was impossible :-/ I didn't and still don't know any better.

The mansion is commandeered by the Japanese and used as an outpost of the Kempeitai, the Japanese Military Police...which makes it all the more difficult. The Japanese officer in question is the Provost Marshall.

06-07-2014, 04:53 PM
No, he's the Provost Marshal, with one "l." :)

06-07-2014, 05:17 PM
Ooops! I stand corrected. Thanks! :D

06-09-2014, 10:04 AM
I had a long post the computer ate. Short version:

I have a hard time with the basic setup of a prisoner of the Japanese gaining access to secrets through the Provest Marshal and ESPECIALLY the Japanese secret police and then being able to transmit that info to other people.

It's much more believable if the person works for the Japanese in some capacity, and isn't a prisoner, because then that person can come and go more freely and have the ability to pass along info.

Does the mistress have to be a prisoner? How about just having her being the guy's mistress, straight up, and leave out the part where she's a prisoner. It makes it much easier to work everything out.

Plus, the Japanese Secret Police are EXACTLY the people who'd be looking for spies, which makes it harder for you to set up the situation to be believable. It makes it totally unbelievable that a prisoner could do this under their noses.

There are several good books on the Phillipine Guerillas in WWII that may help.