1. This chapter was originally prepared in Japanese by Comdr. Masataka Chihaya, Imperial Japanese Navy. Duty assignments of this officer were as follows: Antiaircraft Gunnery Officer, battleship Musashi, 15 Sep 41-10 Oct 42; Staff Officer (Operations), 11th Battleship Division, 10 Oct-30 Nov 42; Staff Officer, Third Section (Military Preparations), Imperial General Headquarters, Navy Section, 20 Jan-1 Jul 43; Naval War College, 1 Jul 43-5 Mar 44; Staff Officer (Operations), Fourth Southern Expeditionary Fleet, 15 Mar 44-18 Jan 45; Staff Officer (Operations), Combined Fleet, 1 Feb-1 May 45; Staff Officer (Operations), General Navy Command, concurrently attached to headquarters, First and Second General Armies, 1 May-6 Sep 45. All source materials cited in this chapter are located in G-2 Historical Section Files, GHQ FEC.
2. The second general offensive on Guadalcanal began with a night attack on the airfield on 24 October 1942. The American positions were penetrated, but the 2d Division sustained heavy casualties and was unable to hold its gains. A second attack was ordered for the night of 25 October, but could not be carried out due to strong American counterattacks, although one brigade on the Japanese left flank carried out an abortive suicide assault. At 0600 on 26 October, orders were issued to suspend the attack and withdraw. Nanto Homen Sakusen Kiroku Sono Ni: Dai Jushichi Gun no Sakusen (Southeast Area Operations Record, Part II: Seventeenth Army Operations) 1st Demobilization Bureau, Sep 46, Vol. I, pp. 166-73.
3. Strength of the 6th Air Division at its activation was: 54 light bombers, 84 fighters, and 9 reconnaissance planes. Subsequent assignment of additional units brought the division up to its maximum operational strength at the end of May 1943, when it had 77 light bombers, 114 fighters, and 26 reconnaissance aircraft, a total of 217 planes. Losses reduced this strength to 165 aircraft at the end of June, and 99 aircraft as of 26 July 1943. Nanto Homen Koku Sakusen Kiroku (Southeast Area Air Operations Record) 1st Demobilization Bureau, Sep 46, pp. 6, 24.
8. Lt. Gen. Imamura flew via Truk, where he conferred with Admiral Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, regarding future Army-Navy cooperation in the southeast area. On 24 December, an Imperial General Headquarters order created a full-fledged Southeast Area Fleet command paralleling the Eighth Area Army. The newly activated Southeast Area Fleet took command of the existing Southeast Area Force, temporarily established by the Combined Fleet.
12. Principal combat units in the Buna-Gona area as of 15 November, with their approximate strengths, were Buna naval garrison, 900; 15th Independent Engineer Regiment, 450 (out of initial strength of 1,003 which landed at Buna in July 1942); 47th Antiaircraft Battalion (less one battery), 250; miscellaneous troops, 850. In addition to the above, there were approximately 2,500 Army and Navy combat ineffectives and medical corps personnel in Giruwa. Labor units were: naval construction unit, 500; Army road construction unit, 700-800. (1) Nanto Homen Sakusen Kiroku Sono San: Dai Juhachi Gun no Sakusen (Southeast Area Operations Record Part III: Eighteenth Army Operations) 1st Demobilization Bureau, Sep 46, Vol. I, pp. 33-5. (2) Statement by Lt. Col. Kengoro Tanaka, Staff Officer (Operations), Eighteenth Army.
13. This intelligence failure was primarily due to the almost complete absence of aerial reconnaissance over the coast of Papua. The Army had only an insignificant number of reconnaissance aircraft operating in the southeast area at this time, and the Navy's air reconnaissance from bases on New Britain was largely directed toward ascertaining enemy fleet movements in the Solomon Sea, particularly the Guadalcanal area.
15. In the absence of the Seventeenth Army Commander and Chief of Staff, both of whom were on Guadalcanal, Col. Yadoru Arisue, senior Seventeenth Army staff officer in Rabaul, acted on his own initiative in dispatching these reinforcements, inadequate communications preventing reference of the matter to Army headquarters on Guadalcanal. Several days later, a radio report came through from the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Hyakutake, directing that reinforcements be sent to Guadalcanal in view of the critical situation there. However, the reinforcement operation to Buna was already near completion. (Statement by Col. Ichiji Sugita, Staff Officer (Intelligence), Seventeenth Army.)
16. These troops were: 3d Battalion, 229th Infantry, and one mountain artillery battery (total, 1,000); two replacement groups for the South Seas Detachment (total, 1,300). (1) Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. Cit. Vol. I, pp. 25-7. (2) Niyu Ginia Shuyo Sakusen: Showa Jushichi Nen (Major New Guinea Operations), 1942, Combined Fleet Headquarters, pp. 55-6.
17. Improvement of the Buna airstrip for operational use in support of the Owen Stanleys offensive was completed in August 1942. However, due to the diversion of the bulk of naval air strength to the Solomons following the American invasion of Guadalcanal, it was never effectively used. Southeast of the airstrip, across Senimi Creek, another strip was built as a dummy field for air defense purposes. This strip does not figure in Japanese operational records, but is referred to in American accounts of the Buna campaign as the "New Strip".
20. After Maj. Gen. Horii's death in late November while trying to get back to the Giruwa area from the Oivi battlefront, Col. Yokoyama temporarily assumed command of the South Seas Detachment. Maj. Gen. Kensaku Oda arrived at Giruwa on 19 December from Rabaul to assume command as Maj. Gen. Horii's successor. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol I, pp. 26 and 43.
22. (1) The survivors of the 41st Infantry and remnants of other units, after a difficult overland retreat from the Oivi battle sector, reassembled in the Napapo area by 27 November. The regimental commander, Col. Kiyomi Yazawa, with the bulk of these survivors, began moving to Giruwa by boat on that date. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, p. 24. (2) Exact strength figures for the regiment as of this date are lacking, but on the basis of best available evidence, only a few hundred troops succeeded in getting back to the Napapo area. (Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited.)
23. Personnel in the rear area comprised a naval construction of 500 men, about 2,500 hospital patients and medical corps personnel, and 200 unattached troops. During the subsequent fighting, several hundred hospitalized personnel were incorporated in combat units and served at the front. Ibid.
25. At the time of the Allied attack, the Buna defense forces had only three mountain artillery guns, three antitank guns, five antiaircraft guns, one triple-mounted 25 mm. machine-gun, and three 13 mm. machine-guns. Major New Guinea Operations, op. cit., p. 36.
27. Capt. Yoshitatsu Yasuda, commander of the Buna naval garrison, was known in the Japanese Navy as an expert in land warfare, having received training with the Army. (Statement by Capt. Toshikazu Ohmae, Staff Officer (Operations), Southeast Area Fleet.)
28. The 21st Independent Mixed Brigade was composed of the 170th Infantry Regiment, one artillery battalion, one antiaircraft battery, one tank company and one engineer company. Upon arrival in the Buna area, the brigade commander, Maj. Gen. Yamagata, was to assume command of all Army forces in the Buna-Giruwa area, grouped together under the designation, Buna Detachment. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 37-9.
35. On 9 December fierce enemy shelling of the Japanese positions in the Senimi Creek area knocked out one mountain gun and smashed a number of bunkers. The positions were restored during the night, however, and successfully held. Ibid., p. 38.
38. Diary of 1st Class Seaman Masaji Konagaya, Yokosuka 5th Special Naval Landing Force, 9 June-23 DEC 42. Entry for 19 December states: "No. 3 Sentry Post withdrawn to the airdrome. The Tsukioka Unit intends to resist to the last." ATIS Current Translations No. 60, 3 Jul 43, p. 18.
43. The adjutant of the naval garrison force, on orders from Capt. Yasuda, made his way out of the encircled headquarters position on the night of 1 January and eventually reached Giruwa to report on the final situation. Col. Yamamoto and Capt. Yasuda planned to lead the surviving Army and Navy personnel in a suicide attack on 2 January. Major New Guinea Operations, op. cit., p. 37.
45. Maj. Kempo Tajima, South Seas Detachment staff officer, in a statement on the condition of the Japanese forces in the Giruwa area prior to evacuation, wrote: Japanese officers and men presented a gruesome sight. Their skin had turned pale, their eyes were sunken, their clothing was in shreds, and only a few wore shoes. The sword alone was a heavy burden for those who carried them. . . .The hospital was filled with dead and wounded, and hundreds of corpses were left on the ground uncollected . . . .It was difficult even to obtain a few sheets of paper on which to write orders, and communications were so disrupted that it was frequently impossible to transmit messages by field telephone. (Statement by Maj. Kempo Tajima, Staff Officer, South Seas Detachment.)
46. (1) On 26-27 December a fighter unit of the 6th Air Division made its first sorties over the Buna area in support of the naval air forces. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 50-1. (2) No Army air strength had previously been sent to the southeast area since operations in this area were primarily the Navy's responsibility. After the enemy reinvasion of Guadalcanal, however, the Navy requested the dispatch of Army air units for employment in the Solomons. The Army Section of Imperial General Headquarters at first declined on the ground that this would seriously weaken air operations on the Burma and China fronts, but as the Guadalcanal situation worsened, the High Command finally agreed to dispatch the 6th Air Division to Rabaul. (Statement by Col. Takushiro Hattori, Chief, Operations Section, Imperial General Headquarters, Army Section.)
51. Maj. Gen. Yamagata estimated that it would be impossible to prevent the Japanese forces from falling into a rout if the evacuation were delayed beyond 20 January. (1) Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited. Col. Tanaka at this time was Eighteenth Army staff officer attached to Buna Detachment Headquarters. (2) Nishi Operations Order Nos. 65 and 66. ATIS Current Translations No 32, op. cit., pp. 24-5.
52. Between 12 and 18 January, 1,000 hospital patients had already been successfully evacuated. In the final evacuation, Maj. Gen. Kensaku Oda, newly-appointed Commanding General of the South Seas Detachment, was killed. (1) Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 59, 60 and 63 (2) Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited.
54. Between April and June, most of the troops evacuated from Giruwa were shipped back to Rabaul for recuperation and reorganization. The 21st Independent Mixed Brigade was deactivated at Rabaul, and the South Seas Detachment and 41st Infantry remnants were transferred to other theaters.
58. Transfer of three battalions from the 5th Division, then operating under Sixteenth Army command in Dutch East Indies, to Eighth Area Army was effected by Imperial General Headquarters order. These battalions were taken from the 11th, 21st and 42d Infantry Regiments. (Statement by Col. Hattori, previously cited.)
65. Maj. Gen. Tooru Okabe, 51st Infantry Group Commander, was placed in command of the detachment. Detailed composition of the force was as follows: 51st Inf. Gp. Hq.; 102d Infantry Regt.; 2d Battalion (less one company) 14th Field Artillery Regiment; one engineer company; one transport company; and one field antiaircraft machine-gun company. The 51st Division had reached the Rabaul area early in December from South China, and was placed under Eighteenth Army command. (1) Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 95-6; (2) Maru Operations Order A No. 270, 1 Jan 43. ATIS Bulletin No. 260, 27 Jul 43, p. 1.
70. Three alternative routes had been considered by Eighteenth Army headquarters during the preliminary planning, but final decision was left to Maj. Gen. Okabe and his staff to be made after arrival at Lae. These routes were Lae-Markham Point-Wampit-Bulolo-Wau; Salamaua-Misim-Wau; and Salamaua-Mubo-Wau. (Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited.)
71. Only seven of the 102d Infantry Regiment's 12 infantry companies participated, since two companies of the 3d Battalion were lost with the Nichiryu Maru, two companies (2d and 8th) were dispatched south to cover the withdrawal of the Japanese forces from Giruwa, and one company was assigned to garrison duty at Mubo. (Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited.)
76. Eighth Area Army headquarters ordered the air attack on Wau only with extreme reluctance, since all available Army and Navy aircraft on New Britain were needed to support the current withdrawal operations from Guadalcanal. The Wau sortie was ordered, however, in view of reports from Maj. Gen. Okabe indicating the serious situation of his forces. (Statement by Col. Sugita, previously cited.)
79. The decision in favor of a new offensive in January was strongly influenced by reports regarding the damage inflicted on the American naval forces in the Santa Cruz sea battle of 26 October. These reports claimed a heavy blow to enemy carrier strength, which it was thought would facilitate the movement of large-scale reinforcement to Guadalcanal. (Statement by Capt. Ohmae, previously cited.)
80. The four transports which reached Guadalcanal were damaged by bomb hits and had to be beached to permit unloading of troops. Nanto Homen Kaigun Sakusen Sono Ichi (Southeast Area Naval Operations, Part I) 2d Demobilization Bureau, Jun 49, p. 40.
86 Exact number of troops evacuated from Guadalcanal is difficult to determine due to the contradictions found in available wartime documents. Figures used in this chapter are as accurate as can be determined from the existing documents. (1) Situation Report (Summary) of the Seventeenth Army, p. 4. (2) Report to the Emperor (Draft) by the Seventeenth Army Commander, p. 17. (3) The Number of Troops Retreating to Erventa. Extracted from the Private Papers of Col. Haruo Konuma, Staff Officer (Operations), Seventeenth Army.
88. These units were the Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force and the Yokosuka No. 7 Special Naval Landing Force. Nanto Homen Kaigun Sakusen Sono Ni (Southeast Area Naval Operations, Part II) 2d Demobilization Bureau, Jun 49. pp. 6 and 14.
89. Maj. Gen. Minoru Sasaki was appointed to command the Southeast Detachment and arrived on Kolombangara Island 31 May to take command. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part II, op. cit. Vol. II, pp. 105-6.
91. The strips at Lae and Buna, though improved for operational use, were inadequate and subject to frequent enemy air attack. In the Solomons, construction of bases in the Buin area on Bougainville and on New Georgia had not been completed until after the Allied invasion of Guadalcanal. (Statement by Capt. Ohmae, previously cited.)
92. During the one-month period from 15 November to 15 December 1942, B-17's sank one destroyer carrying troop reinforcements to Buna and damaged six others. By 15 December all destroyer movement to the Buria area had to be abandoned. Greater East Asia War Summary, op. cit., pp. 45-72.
93. At Rabaul it was extremely rare for a B-17 to be shot down either by antiaircraft fire or defending fighters. Vice Adm. Masao Kanazawa, 8th Naval Base Force Commander, recorded that he first saw a B-17 shot down over Rabaul on 9 August 1942, and that all personnel were "wild with joy." Extracted by the writer from personal papers of Vice Adm. Kanazawa.
94. In the spring of 1943, the new Gekko night fighter, armed with a fixed machine gun mounted at an angle of about 30 degrees to the fuselage axis, was pitted against the B-17, but it was only partially effective in checking night raids on Rabaul. (Statement by Capt. Ohmae, previously cited.)
95. Between the American invasion of Guadalcanal in August and the end of 1942, nearly 800 naval planes were expended in the Solomons campaign. Approximately one-third of this total represented carrier-borne aircraft. (Statistical data compiled by 2d Demobilization Bureau, Liquidation Division.)
100. Principal service units additionally assigned to Eighteenth Army during this period were as follows: 6th Independent Antitank Battalion; 50th, 56th, part of 58th, and 61st-63d Antiaircraft Battalions; 38th-41st Independent Antiaircraft Batteries; 25th and 29th Independent Antiaircraft Machine-Cannon Companies; 4th Engineer Headquarters; 8th, 30th, 33d, 36th and 37th Independent Engineer Regiments; 3d, 21st Mortar Battalions; 35th-38th, 40th, 44th, 48th Road Construction Units; 3d, 4th Field Transport Headquarters; 39th, 42d Motor Transport Battalions; 225th, 263d, 290th, 291st, 302d, 304th Independent Motor Transport Companies; 1st-12th and 16th-18th Special Independent Motor Transport Companies; 3d Independent Transport Regiment; 5th, 9th Shipping Engineer Regiments; 1st-4th, 6th, 7th Independent Searchlight Companies. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 223-8.
103. Major elements of the 20th Division embarked from Pusan, Korea, on 12 January aboard eight Navy transports escorted by two light cruisers and five destroyers. These reached Wewak on 19 January. The 41st Division sailed from Tsingtao, North China, in three echelons, the first of which left on 12 February. All three echelons reached Wewak between 20 and 28 February, disembarking a total of 13,700 troops. Southeast Area Naval Operations, Part II, op. cit., p. 5.
104. The shipment was to include the following: 51st Division Headquarters; 115th Infantry Regiment; two-thirds of 14th Artillery Regiment; two-thirds of 51st Engineer Regiment; service elements. These totalled about 6,900 troops. Only 51st Division units remaining in Rabaul were the 66th Infantry Regiment (less 3d Battalion), 51st Cavalry Regiment, and a few service units. (1) Southeast Area Operation Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 147-152. (2) Statement by Lt. Col. Tanaka, previously cited.
105. Troop transports were the Kyokusei Maru, Oigawa Maru, Teiyo Maru, Anal Maru, Aiyo Maru, Taimei Maru, Kembu Maru, and naval transport Nojima. Destroyer escort was made up of the following: Tokitsukaze, Arashio, Yukikaze, Asashio, Uranami, Sbikinami, Shirayuki, and Asagumo. (1) 51st Division Order No. A-59, 23 Feb 43, Annex 2: (2) Lae Transport Escort Operations Order No. 1, 26 Feb 43. Both published in ATIS Enemy Publication No. 7, Part I, Bismarck Sea Operation, February-March 1943, 8 APR 43, pp. 18-A and 75-A.
108. Foregoing account of the Bismarck Sea battle is based on the following sources: (1) Greater East Asia War Summary, op. cit., pp. 142-50. (2) Statements by Comdr. Nikichi Handa, Staff Officer (Signal), Lae Transport Escort Force and Capt. Ohmae and Col. Sugita, previously cited. (Col. Sugita, accompanying the Eighteenth Army headquarters, was aboard the destroyer Tokitsukaze, sunk on 3 March.)
109. Two alternative routes were used between Tuluvu and Lae: (1) Tuluvu-Busching-Finschhafen-Lae; and (2) Tuluvu-Umboi-Sio-Finschhafen-Mange-Lae. The landing craft were able to complete each leg of their voyage during ten hours of darkness each night, remaining inactive during the day to escape enemy air attack. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 259-61.
111. A survey of the projected Madang-Lae road, carried out between late December and early February by units stationed at Madang, found that construction of a road suitable for motor traffic would require four to five months using a labor force of 3,000 men. Even before the survey was completed, however, Eighteenth Army had decided that the project must be undertaken at any cost. Southeast Area Operations Record, Part III, op. cit. Vol. I, pp. 188, 191 and 199.
116. Data on air attacks from 7 to 14 April extracted from (1) Greater East Asia War Summary, op. cit., pp. 174-184. (2) Southeast Area Naval Operations Part II, op. cit., p. 9-10. American Editor's Note: Official Allied sources covering these attacks give the following data, cited for comparison against Japanese claims: 7 April raid on Guadalcanal: participating aircraft, 50 bombers, 48 fighters; 39 shot down; no report of American plane losses or damage to ships. 11 April raid on Oro Bay: 40/45 bombers and fighters; 17 shot down, 16 probables; three ships damaged. 12 April raid on Port Moresby: 45/50 bombers, 50 fighters; 17 shot down, 10 probables; four Allied aircraft destroyed, 14 damaged; fuel ands upply dumps destroyed, buildings damaged. 14 April raid on Milne Bay: 61 bombers, 30 fighters; 15 shot down, 9 probables; one ship sunk, four damaged; fuel dump destroyed.