A Case Study in Balagan Thinking – How I justify collecting Japanese

If you didn’t know, Balagan means messy or chaotic. And lately my head has definitely been balagan. I’m trying to justify building up a Japanese force for Crossfire. I’m trying to find ways to fit the Japanese into my Official Focus of Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and Israel. I’ve got to say, it ain’t easy. But with quite a lot of mental gymnastics I might manage it.


Recent posts have focussed on the Japanese under Crossfire: 5cm (Knee) Mortars, HMG, and Revised Orbat. So it won’t surprise you to do know that I want to build up a Japanese force. It is probably Brett Simpson’s fault with his great looking Play Test of Mac’s Crossfire Missions in the Pacific.

The trouble is my Official Focus is Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and Israel. Having a focus has saved me from insanity for the last 3 decades. And the Japanese, Pacific War, Burma, and Soviet-Japanese War do not fit my focus very well. That doesn’t stop me trying, but it does cause Fuzzy Brain syndrome.

Fuzzy Thinking Cartoon Brain
Fuzzy Thinking Cartoon Brain


Of course Spain was involved in the Eastern Front, the Blue Division etc. And if you travel a bit further east you get the Soviet-Japanese War.

Is that enough to field Japanese? Nah. Doesn’t sound compelling.

New Zealand

New Zealand. It has to be New Zealand. Pacific island and all that. Trouble is most kiwis who fought in World War II were in 2 (New Zealand) Division. And 2 NZ Div fought in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy, but definitely not the Pacific or Burma. If only my government had followed the lead of the Aussies and pulled our boys back down under to defend the homeland against the Japanese. Ah well.

But wait, what about 3rd New Zealand Division. 3rd NZ Div fought in the Pacific War. Yay! Now we are rocking. The division saw action in the Solomon Islands campaign during 1943–1944, and undertook landings on Vella Lavella, the Treasury Islands and the Green Islands. But that sounds more impressive than the reality. They didn’t really see much action and then got dissolved.

My last chance are the Kiwi pilots in the air over Burma supplying 14th Army. I’m sure that was vital for the 14th army but I’m not sure that counts for my purposes, as I’m looking for grunts to fight in Crossfire.


Since my family connection to New Zealand didn’t work out I thought I’d try my wife’s connection to Israel. Bit unlikely I know. But I have an idea … Before the war, Orde Wingate was stationed in Israel and helped establish the Special Night Squads (SNS), a joint British-Jewish unit. He wasn’t Jewish, actually devout Christian. But the Israeli’s appreciated him. Israel’s National Centre for Physical Education and Sport, the Wingate Institute (Machon Wingate), was named after him to commemorate his assistance to the Zionist cause. And then there is Wingate Square (Kikar Wingate) in the Talbiya neighbourhood of Jerusalem. And the Yemin Orde youth village near Haifa. And lets not forget the Jewish football club formed in London in 1946, Wingate F.C. Man, he had a foot ball club named after him. Definitely an honourable Israeli.

And, of course, in WW2 Orde led the Chindits.

The best Israeli connection I’ve got. But, I admit, dubious.


I have recently discovered that the Japanese invaded Portuguese Timor. Bingo. Okay, the active defenders were actually Australian and Dutch, until the Australians started arming the locals, both Portuguese and Timorese. There were a few Kiwis in Z Special Unit, but the Australians dominated. Even that I can get over. Unfortunately most of the actions were more like commando raids. Not really a Crossfire thing.


What you might not realise about me is that I’m Celtic. With grandparents who were Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Cornish it is hard for me to be more Celtic. At least I self identify as Celtic. Both my daughters have Celtic names – one Irish and the other Welsh. That explains some of my gaming inclinations despite being official off-piste. I’m already doing King Arthur based on my prior outing with my Strathclyde Welsh (Northern Cymry) for Britannia 600 AD Campaign.

So I’m tempted to expand my heritage interests to explicitly include Wales. Surname “Thomas”. Say no more. Welsh through and through … aside from the Scottish, Irish and Cornish parts of me. Acknowledging my Welsh heritage legitimately gives me both King Arthur and Burma. Result!

So were any Welsh in Burma? Well, yes, sir, they were. At least four battalions:

  • 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers, 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd British Infantry Division, XXXIII Corps, Fourteenth Army
  • 2nd Battalion, Welch Regiment, 62nd Indian Infantry Brigade, 19th Indian Infantry Division, IV Corps and then Indian XXXIII Corps, Fourteenth Army
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers, 29th British Infantry Brigade, 36th Indian Infantry Division, Northern Combat Area Command
  • 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, 72nd British Infantry Brigade, 36th Indian Infantry Division, Northern Combat Area Command

But I quite like the Welsh connection with these guys …

  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles

Okay, not very Welsh. The men were Gurkhas from Nepal. The colonel was English (the Prince and the actual commander). There might have been some Welsh amongst the officers but from reading John Master’s book on his experience with the unit, I’d say not. And they weren’t even in the British army; they were part of the Indian army. But “Wales” is in the title. Surely that is enough. And I’d get to field Gurkhas (cool) and a bag piper (extra-cool). My Welsh-Scottish nervous system is tingling!


I think the Welsh connection is the way to go. And those Gurkhas look so so cool

Man, that guy is crazy. Shoot him.

I just want to get some Japanese.

7 thoughts on “A Case Study in Balagan Thinking – How I justify collecting Japanese”

    • Except Khmer. Khmer is hard to justify based on a Scots/Irish/Hugenot/Celt heritage. Unless …

  1. i´d like to point a possible japanese-spanish link. There was a little japanese colony near Seville, as a result of a diplomatic expedition sent in XVII century, their descendents are very proud about their japanese heritage, so… More seriously, A japanese military attache asked for information about soviet weapons used by the Republicans, and Franco ordered to comply with his petition. By the way, about one hundred chinese served in the “International Brigades”, while just one japanese served in the “Abrham Lincoln” battalion, Jack Shirai who died fighting in Brunete, perhaps there were others, but it is not sure. Also, a japanese served in the 21 Bandera de la Legion. However, in 1945 during the battle for Manila, there was a firefight between japanese troops and spanish guards who were defending the Diplomatic Legation in the city. As you can imagine, it ended badly for the spanish and worse for the refugees in the Consulate which were massacred
    As for the Israeli-Japanese connection, XTR published several wargames about a Third World War between Japan and the Third Reich, in several of them appear a fictional -but armoured- unit named “Emperor´s Loyal Hebrews”, so there you go!!

  2. I had tomorrow the world and that was one of two counters that made the game interesting. The other was a KKK horse cavalry used in southern US. I do have a dark sense of humor.

    I so love the thought experiment but I am unwilling to do it myself as I come from Polish Slovak stock so I can fight anywhere, and that is with only one known parent.

    Portugal was my first thought, I am just proud I remembered Timor was Portuguese. The raids would make an interesting game. Any ideas on sources for this fight?

  3. Hi
    The WW II Burma Campagin is of special interest to me. It’s a sort of forgotten theatre. Anyway, my dad was in Burma in 1944 and was part of the 1st Air Commandos. He was glider pilot and participated in the assault behind Japanese lines called “Operation Thursday”. In this first operation, gliders landed British and Gurkha forces at a site code named “Broadway”. It was the first air Invasion of Burma by the allies. The idea for the guerrilla style campaign was the brainchild of British General Wingate. The American formed this unit to give the “Chindits” air support in numerous ways for the campaign in Burma.


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