*We wish to thank Itirou Inui and his son for their contribution to our pages and the history of WWII in the Pacific. Without Itirou's painstaking efforts to translate his father's diary, the following account would have been impossible. - Jim Garrett
It's a great pleasure to send you my first message. I feel my heart leaping just like when I could see my old friend after many years of missing.
'My Guadalcanal' is a report of men of an anti-tank gun company who lived and died on the island with their duties. I was a 2nd Lt. a platoon leader of 8th Independent Anti-tank Gun Company attached to Ichiki-Shitai. We had been there from August 30, 1942 to February 7, 1943. I have kept a diary in Guadalcanal, and added some notes in a field hospital in Bougainville. I corrected and edited these records of my experiences and many other published records for 12 years. With an assistance from my son, I published them in a private book form in 4 parts 'My Guadalcanal' in 1992.
In short, I was no excellent soldier. And as I wrote my book for my children, it contains a lot of disadvantage, disgrace and shortcomings, while many records of war are dressed up for their reasons. Also I wrote in my diary only what I had seen and heard on the island, and added no embellishment in the text itself, so it might lack a bird's-eye view of the battle. But there will be some facts and truth that will attract your interest in it. I wish I could see you someday as one of your war buddy since 1942.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "My Guadalcanal" by Genjirou Inui
(* The 8Th Independent Anti-tank Gun Company(8TAS) was organized originally from the 9th Regiment, 16th Division, Kyoto. We had been at the front since November 24, 1941 when transport Tohuku-Maru departed Osaka harbor bound for Luzon. After that we fought in Philippines and in Java. And without firing our guns in the actual fighting, we were on the South China Sea bound for our homeland.)
8TAS landed at Atimonan on Lamon Bay, Philippines on Dec. 24, 1941 and advanced to Manila with the main force of 16th Division. This picture was taken on Jan. 3, 1942 on the roadside near Lipa city. You can see a wheel of PAK 35/36 and a TOYOTA truck used as a tractor. They were both camouflaged by coconut palm leaves.
May 15, 1942
Out of Kao-hsiung harbor Taiwan. The captain of the transport and unit commanders went to harbor office to get information on Japanese waters. Telegraphs from Ujina Hiroshima are urging our returning three times. Past 17:00, after 4 hour's anchoring, we departed and went along the east coastline of the island. On guard for enemy submarines.
The sky was getting dark and clouds were low above the sea, silky rain began to fall silently on the bridge, on the deck and on the sea. It's a Japanese rain! I recalled Mt. Haruna looking hazy in the spring rain.
(*The battleship Haruna that bombarded the airfield at Guadalcanal with Kongoh was named for this mountain near my hometown. )
I felt I heard the distant boom of the bell of Shinkouji-Temple.(*Now existent in my hometown.) And a girl walking under an oiled-paper umbrella along the front approach to the temple. The clip-clop of clogs sounded.
An order from day duty officer to prepare life jackets and other lifesaving equipment. We are still in the danger zone!
Stormy weather. Wild waves in Japanese waters with the driving rain troubled us all the day. But we are merry and happy having passed the greater part of this war time on the sea. We expect that we were to be released from conscription after repatriation. No! Now we are in the most dangerous zone of the Japanese waters. I went to bed preparing not to make a mistake such as a respectable officer never commits. But vague as it may be, I felt the bright future in the dark. Only ones who passed the hard days on a battlefield can dream such dreams.
Arrived at Moji harbor (*Kyusyu island). Soldiers were beaming with joy even in checkup. How beautiful office girls looked waving hands and handkerchiefs from all the windows of 6 floored customs house. Japanese girls whom I saw for the first time since I had seen Japanese nurse in Surabaya, looked all the more beautiful and they filled my heart with emotion. Suddenly, the order to disembark changed to the order to embark. 8TAS was attached to Ichiki-Shitai. Soldiers were struck dumb with surprise and knew not what to do for a time. I guessed about such an order a little, and was not so surprised. I asked Cap. Kawai of 31AAS (*31st Independent Anti-Aircraft Gun Company) to mail letters to my parents and Miss. Kamiya. (*My wife. But she didn't received the letter.) We reported to Col. Ichiki in a room at the customs house.
(*We expected to whoop it up in that night. It was an empty dream, but we happened to see 13 Geisha-girls of Moji walking along the streets of the harbor. I don't know why so big a troop of Geisha passed through right before our eyes, and it was the last time I would see them before the end of the war.)
13:30: All the officers of Ichiki-Shitai met together in a meeting room of the customs house. We gave three cheers "Banzai!" for the Japanese Empire and prayed for the success of our new duty, Capturing Midway Operations. We embarked on transport Zen-you-Maru.
Waves are raging like gigantic spirited horses. Wavelengths are about 30m or more. Though our transport is a big ship, it's rolling and pitching badly. But escort ships are magnificently plowing the waves. The convoy is rushing to Saipan.
We are assigned to make a night raid deep into the enemy's harbor and the sea, and shoot their small vessels to cut off their retreat and exterminate the enemy. I told my soldiers this thrilling duty and demanded that they would aim at the perfect action through the drills.
I didn't know there were some mountains in Saipan. A lack of understanding! Drills for landing operations planned in the afternoon were cancelled.
First drills for landing operations. We were to stand by starting at 1:00, but finally we could at 2:00. Preparation was incomplete and directions were not accurate. We drilled shooting on the landing boat (*'Daihatu', a large sized landing boat). But 4 boats joined for stability in shooting were too big a target and too slow to handle. I can't agree with this plan. Fish run sometimes through the white reef. The air of the sea is really refreshing in the morning sunshine.
Col. Ichiki severely criticized landing maneuvers yesterday. But he looked satisfied today. I felt sorry that he was directing the maneuvers dripping-wet while we gunners were on landing boats in dry uniforms. It's the Anniversary of the Victory in the Battle of the Japan Sea today. We made a bow toward the Imperial Palace and gave three cheers "Banzai!" for the long life of His Majesty the Emperor. And we swore to fight hard for the victory in the new step of this war. MG practice in the afternoon. 2nd Lt. Nemoto admired that I had learned the manual well.
Col Ichiki, commander of the Ichiki-Shitai Division and leader of the ill-fated attack at the Battle of the Teneru
(*Nothing written this day except a date. I remember the Central Pacific was calm and painted in gold-color in the evening, and the convoy was making an advance to the East.)
(*Mr. Noboru Kojima recorded in his 'Pacific War' like this:"May 28, Ichiki Detachment and 2nd Special Landing Force commanded by Col. Minoru Ohta divided up and departed Saipan in 12 transports with their escorts, 2 seaplane carriers, 1 light cruiser and 11 destroyers. Other escorts having 4 heavy cruisers and 2 destroyers departed Guam on the same day.
May 29, The main force of 2nd fleet commanded by Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo departed the bay of Hiroshima. The main force of Kondo fleet, appointed to the capturing force, was 1 carrier 'Zuiho', 2 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, and 8 destroyers. The main force of the Combined Fleet directly commanded by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto followed. The main force was 3 battleships 'Yamato', 'Nagato', 'Mutu', 1 carrier 'Housyou', 1 light cruiser and 9 destroyers, and its guarding force was 4 battleships, 2 light cruisers, 1 destroyer. And including submarines and the other assistant vessels and ships, the total number of Japanese ships were more than 350. Moreover, 1,000 airplanes and 10,0000 soldiers were mobilized. Imperial Japan had never launched such a big operation before and never could after that."
A map exercise directed by Col. Ichiki. He aimed mainly to unify and fix the basic ideas of the battle. He directed in details and I thought his officers were sure to put confidence in him. He commented about the covering fire by the Navy. He said that we had confidence in the Navy, but he approved that the Army would not request covering fire for its good name, unless our soldiers' shooting was difficult or our forces were too close to shoot. He instructs not only tactics but pride that officers should take in. Good commander. We were invited to his dinner. We heard our planes attacking enemy submarine in the morning and an air-raid warning in the afternoon.
Fine weather. We were bound to ENE after we departed Saipan, and advanced to the center of the Central Pacific. The sky and the sea are majestic rusty red in the morning and evening, and the 'Pacific' ocean looks calm and silent in the broad daylight. But how we should shoot our anti-tank guns in the coming battle loaded on landing boats. I can't imagine the battle well.
(*The convoy was found by US scout plane at 600n.m SW to Midway in 6:00, June 4, and were attacked by US planes that flew from Midway in the afternoon.)
The first destroyer sent up black smoke in the blue sky. 2nd and 3rd followed this. An air-raid warning! The convoy spread out into battle formation. Anti-aircraft fire gunners were put in their position. We found 9 enemy planes on starboard, on the horizon some cumulus floating in the sky. Soon they attacked us in 3 flight formations. 6 planes came in on the convoy. AA opened fire on the enemy planes. A fragment of the body fell twinkling. One enemy plane rolled to left side and puffed out a streak of smoke. Huge columns of water went up on both sides of Argentina-Maru. But nothing happened to my transport. 3 minutes after, only the simple sound of a ship's engine again.
Landing operations are put off. It is the anniversary of the Acceptance of the Standard of 28th Regiment.
(*28th Regiment was Ichiki-shitai's original unit. Its HQ was set at Asahikawa, Hokkaido)
7:30, we assembled and stood in line on the upper deck. We presented arms to the Standard, and the sound of bugles 'Guard of the nation' sounded over the Pacific. The boys of Asahikawa have their standard and we 8TAS don't. How enviable they looked today!
June 7, 1942
It was after noon yesterday that the vanguards of the Combined Fleet found the strong enemy planes and fleet. They said the 2nd fleet would attack the enemy from behind, and the 2nd Destroyer Squadron made a sally. We are 160km SW from Midway. The good news may not come until this evening when the main force comes to the theater. Enemy planes seems stronger than we expected. The news, Hiryu went up in flames but no trouble.
9:00 The Ceremony of Allegiance to the Imperial Message to the Company on the upper deck. We strengthened our determination to give our life for the Empire. They say our cruiser Mikuma got unable to steer and was evacuating from enemy planes. We have not heard our main force was in the battle yet. The landing will be forced to put off no sooner than 2 weeks.
U-turned convoy is still to the SW of Midway. The landing force of the Navy was dissolved. Ichiki-shitai was transferred from 2nd Landing Force to under direct control of 2nd Fleet, and bound to Guam.
(*In the transport I heard we had lost 4 carriers. The news came not from my Captain but from a soldier. It's amazing that 'soldier's news' is always quick and correct.)
I met my father in my dream. He was on a business trip and wore a cloak with a lapel badge of Dutch Paymaster Lt. Col. He looked fine and was in a car. A strange dream.
Suddenly a squall! Soldiers sprang out on the deck naked. Out of the steam bath into rain shower. They were all white from head to toe with spread soap. One who was ready began washing in the water falls from tarpaulin. I naked too, and shouted 'All hands on the Deck!' Then a scream! The rain had slacked off. 'More, more! It's too soon stopping!' Someone was struggling to wash half-spread lather off, and they burst out laughing. Fortunately it rained for a while.
Got to Guam.
(* To Ichiki-shitai were allotted barracks near Apra H. about 7 or 8km SW to Agana city. We learned we had suffered crushing defeat at Midway, and were to committed to the Battle of Solomon 2 months later, and there realized painfully the impact that Midway had caused. But who knew that then? We can't stop a violent change of the general situation. After a long time on the sea, a life on shore was unbearably cheerful for us. We had no choice but to rush into new duties and life.)
1st Lt. Nemoto went ashore with part of the company in charge of a construction gang. The peace and order on Guam seems well kept by naval government. For instance, islanders don't lock doors when they are out in the farm. The most precious of their property is coconut palm trees. Navy bought islander's estate to expand an airfield and paid a good price, but they cried when their coconut trees were cut down with heavy thud. Don't expect too much of sweet life on the island.
Landed near 13:00 after duties on board. Went up about 1500m through coconut groves, looking down the naval ensign of the Rising Sun fluttering on the rooftop of the HQ of the Navy. Then got to barracks on a slope facing toward Apra bay. The interior is good and was suitable for US soldiers, but unfortunately the eaves are very low and obstruct the seascape. By the way, it was amazing that soldiers had excellent skill and a knack at interior decorating. They do their best for themselves. Unexpected beer for dinner! No wind in the night and a violent attack of mosquitoes.
I took this picture. Soldiers are 2nd or 4th squad of my platoon. 100 men of the Company landed at Guadalcanal, and 76 died
Went to the movies at Lecture Hall of the Navy. Saw 3 news films. 'The war bereaved worshipping a spring ritual in Yasukuni-shrine': I recalled Miss Kamiya who was one of those bereaved. 'the Battle Taking the Fortress of Corregidor': Many friends of mine in Kyoto Regiment must have died there. I was almost moved to tears. No other barracks will give us such a fine seascape in the morning and in the evening. I wish I could be stationed here longer.
14:00 Swim training. It's amazing that 33 of the NCO's and soldiers can't swim, though swimming was a pleasure for me. It was troubling that 9 men were stung by sea urchin or jelly fish in the shallows of the reef, yet the training must be continued. Came back singing a martial song merrily. The first day duty on the island.
June 19, 14:00 Swim training. It's amazing that 33 NCO's and soldiers can't swim .........From left to right, 2nd Lt. Kinosita 1st Lt. Nemoto and me.
Went to Agana city by bike with 2nd Lt. Taniguchi to buy fishing tackle. Bought fish hooks at Sayama's shop (*Japanese). The daughter of the owner was really a cutey. She speaks broken Japanese taught by her father and sailors. On our way back, we found a canoe in mangroves. As the owner was unknown, we used the canoe without permission. (*Taniguchi went back by bike) It was lighter than I expected, but hard to steer because of the outrigger. I took shortcut across the bay, but the bamboo pole didn't reach the bottom of the sea! Helpless, and in a panic, I paddled the canoe with my hands forgetting to roll up my sleeves. 20 or 30 strokes moved the canoe slowly to the shore. I shouldn't have gone alone not knowing the tide and the bottom. Gave a sigh of relief when I got to the shore near barracks.
In the lecture hall of the Navy, we officers heard general explanation about the development of the battle on Guam, then made an on-the-spot inspection by 2 buses. Landing place: a landing force found treads of tanks, and made a tragic but brave resolution. It turned out to be a tractor for road repairing, and all burst out laughing! The reef: 8 men sprained in wading 500 or 600m on the reef. Landing place of the Army, a bathing resort, and an imposing white palace behind the city: Suikosha(*Clubhouse of the Navy). Looked at colorful roofs of the city from the terrace, the flaming red of bougainvillea, the Pacific Ocean merging into the sky, and the white wave line of the coral reef. Refreshments were provided by Islander girls.
14:00 Came back to the Company. Called for the canoe which soldiers had been playing with and went fishing. The canoe was stranded by ebb tide, and we pushed it to the wharf. Thank heaven!
Forgetting yesterday, on the canoe again with Captain and Taniguchi. But no catch. On the way back, ebb tide again. Am sick of it!
An excellent Sumo ring was completed. I took charge of ritual opening of the ring. An Inter-platoon Match was won by 4th platoon with Pv. 2nd Wakayama the Yokozuna(*grand champion) of the 8TAS. Have a slight cold, feel ill.
June 28 (Sun)
The Moon is bright and clear, night breeze is so cool, and its Sunday night. We are dying for a drink and girls, and Captain doesn't mind. The planning for Amusement Show of Ichki-shitai was completed. The night record concert under palm trees was so nice.
Captain said suddenly 'Don't care about me'. It's all the more difficult for us to go.
There were a lot of responses to 'The Song of 8TAS' contest. Many admirable works.
13:00 An examination with Company Commander. The 1st prize was given to words by 8th squad having individuality and expressing war services of 8TAS in it. Though the music was of 'the New Japanese Army' and lacked freshness a little. I had my Captain look at the site of the Amusement show before the day of the show. The Harmonica Band, Isao Rhythm Boys, and 'Kanzaki goes to Edo'(*a scene of the Kabuki) will make something. 'O-some and Hisamatsu'(*Kabuki) is troubling. With all their effort, the play looked unsuccessful. I helped them adapt the story so that they can cheer up. I hope the program will succeed. Back in my room, Captain, Nemoto and Taniguchi showed me 20 or more fish over 20cm in length. They were beaming with triumph of getting a good catch.
14:00 Prelims of the Amusement Show. Over 50 programs all out of Ichiki-shitai are a wonder! All programs from 8TAS are a flop, and it gets on my nerves! Sat and heard good and bad performances for 5 hours, tired.
Went to Agana city with my drinking companions by jeep. In the moonlight, driving along the seaside near the city was so nice.
The 1st Ichiki-shitai Amusement Show was performed with Col. Ichiki as a guest. Many good programs. We program directors worked hard, and the show closed with success but ran 2 hours over time.
1st prize: 'The Magic Show' by Goto unit. 2nd prize: 'Kanzaki goes to Edo' by 8TAS. 3rd prize: 'The Family of the Lighthouse Keeper' by Wada unit. 4th prize: 'Recruiting the Acrobat' by Ohkubo unit. 5th prize: 'An Elegant Unit' by HQ Soldiers were cheerful.
(*Col. Ichiki enjoyed the show from beginning to end)
8TAS got 2nd prize. 2 bottles of Sake, 5 bottles of beer, 5 paper bagged beans as a snack.
To demonstrate the great power of the Imperial Army to Islanders, we performed shooting practice on the beach near Syowa-machi. We had lunch at primary school, and found villagers are eager to learn Japanese and make painful efforts. SwimTraining again. In the evening, staff of the amusement show dined together at Ohmiya-hall. Being mellow, slightly drunk and unsteady, the twilight driving was nice. Watch out your handling!
(*The site was perhaps near Nimitz beach SW to the Apra H. We practiced target shooting with live shells for the first time since we had test-fired on a destroyed US tank in Manila. 2nd platoon hit all the floating targets set at 600 and 800m offshore. And it was the last time I gave a command firing our antitank guns.)
Jan. 23 1942, We test-fired at US tank which was left near Manila. Our guns were excellent in accuracy of shooting but were weak in destructive power. The picture (with soldiers of 8TAS) shows another tank.
Past 14:00, Went to the Independent Engineer Unit by jeep to inspect a 'practice blasting'. Enjoyed playing ping-pong for the first time since I had left Japan. Dance lessons 1st Lt. Nemoto gave was a fun. After that, we went out of Apra H. by landing boat. We watched the sea for a few minutes, then a white column of water sent up. A blasting succeeded! Soldiers of IEU sprang into the sea and caught colorful fish. Captain and I too.
17:00 Came back to barracks with the present.
8:30, A ceremony on the 1st anniversary of the founding of our company, with invited guest Col. Ichiki. He gave an address to us: "I hope this company of brilliant military services, will achieve greater military gains in future and make its history."
A magnificent address. Inter-platoon Sumo Match in the morning. 4th platoon won.
13:00 An entertainment. A costume parade was a fun. Directing Squad: 'I'm the Most Modern Boy in my Village', 1st platoon: 'Kiyomasa Kato'(*famous samurai who hunted big tiger in Korea), 2nd platoon: 'Our Captain', 3rd platoon: 'A Mango Vendor in Java', 4th platoon: 'Taro Urashima'(*a fisherman who went to a Dragon's Palace, Rip Van Winkle of Japan). Pv. 2nd Wakayama ran amuck again, a poor boy! Dinner began very quiet and in an instant became an orgy. They said I was in a shower room, I myself didn't know that. I woke in the twilight of the morning and found I was in room.
After joint instruction, Captain commanded formation training. 'Standing in rows' 'Go straight on' 'Change the formation'. I don't know why he did such an old-fashioned training. Trained passing through the mangrove. Guns were very hard to pass, and even men passed hard, and the passing was quite impossible in the night and without a light.
NCO's went to Agana city to study the History of War. Movies on the grounds of Navy. A news film 'Taking Attu and Kiska' launched with 'Midway' and succeeded. 'The Way of a Woman' 'The Cuckoo' was 10 year old film but interesting.
Soldiers visited Agana city.
7:00 Started by landing boats, sailed the open sea out of the bay. Some poor men got seasick in 2 hours sail. After general observation, went to a meeting place for soldiers. A volunteer service by girls from the Japanese Association of Guam was a great delight for them. I saw the daughter of Sayama's drugstore's owner, smiling. On the way back, they would coax to go by land. They are sure stumped by landing boats.
4:00, 1st Lt. Maruyama woke me up. Sleepy! A little fuss looking for the key. Got to the Company at 4:30, cooking already began.
7:30, started with unlimbered guns. 'a serious condition' when we arrived at Syowa-machi. After a short break, 'hiking'. In the night, 'bombing' saloons again.
Captain brought the News! We will be under command of 16th division again. A good chance of repartriation! Suddenly felt Japan closer, thought of my home, my future, Miss Kamiya, streets of Kyoto. Good to stand by reorganization. I wish I could fire the gun in actual combat. I can ask nothing better than taking Hawaii. Dying on battlefield is better than living an idle life. A marriage with a good partner is of course not bad.
An amusement by islanders on specially prepared stage. Coconut leaves were glistening in the moonlight after a squall.
18:30, first program was 'The Danube Wave' by Miss Yasuko Sawada, it was wonderful though a little incomplete. A tap dance by little children was lovely. The ethnic Bamboo Dance was favorably received; an international exposition. An accordion, Schubert's Serenade by violin, a pathetic song by native girl. The highlight of the show was the hula by islander children. The finale was a song 'Heitai-san yo arigato'(*'Thank you Japanese soldiers').
6:30, All officers of Ichiki-shitai were assembled in front of the church, and waited the Commander. Col. Ichiki read aloud the Command by the Imperial Headquarters Army Division. 8th Independent Antitank Gun Company was transferred from under the command of Ichiki-shitai to 16th Division(*Kyoto. The division called 'The Guard of Imperial Mausoleum of the Emperor Meiji'). The day of farewell to Guam is close at hand.
(*Almost all my friends and senior of 9th Regiment, 16th Division, had been dispatched to Leyte. I would see none of them after war.)
In the camp of 9th Reg. of Kyoto, Apr. 1941.
After dinner, chat about marriage. All talk about sweet married life, and another topic was about sushi, tempura and so on. I would have udon-noodles too. Are my parents well? I have had no news for a year. I wish you good health!
Yesterday, a rooster that crowed the coming of dawn was on the table, and today, a pig that we had fed the remains of our meal. Meats were delicious, but feeling that these animals had been like family members, for no reason at all we felt the pathos of things.
Went to a dance by islanders with Captain Nakaoka and an army surgeon. I was struck dumb with the atmosphere of dance and music. A Chief Engineer of transport Kansai-maru said, 'In Singapore I saw many officers dancing very well. If such officers increased, it's all up with us then.' But at last I danced, his words ringing in my ears.
8:30, Captain lectured on the development of the battle in the Philippines and Java. In the evening I helped Taniguchi write down the lecture, though civilians in peace time won't be interested in the contents. Captain said that making such a story is a newspaper reporter's specialty, and laughed.
The last night in Guam.
17:20, Went on board Daihuku-maru(*Boston-maru?).
Left Guam. Good-bye to 'Bombing' saloons, Ohmiya hall, the white roof of Suikoukai-club, good-bye. It's raining. Departed at noon.
Next Command from Imperial Headquarters Army Division was 'Stop going up North. Await next command at Guam.' Our hearts leaped at the news. Col. Ichiki must be rejoicing at that too. 2 days ago, soldiers jumped for joy when they found transports coming in Apra H. Singing songs, they went on board bound for home. But ships they had been longing for, suddenly changed their course to another battlefield. They were dispirited in a moment. However, remember boys, only the life with a sublime duty to carry out will be worth living.
(*An American scout plane found Japanese airfield on Guadalcanal on July 4. It was completed on August 5. The 13th construction unit commander Maj. Okamura sent a telegram requesting planes to be dispatched quickly. It was US planes that came flying in immediately, not our planes! The Imperial Headquarters had not been cautious of a counterattack by the US at that time, and estimated optimistically the counterattack would not be launched till the second half of the following year, while Admiral Nimitz decided on the 7th of August as 'D-Day'.
The only strong unit the US could deploy in this area, the 1st Marine Division, 12 thousand men under the command of strong General Vandegriff, and other units loaded onto 23 transports in Wellington, N.Z. 3 carriers, 1 battleship, 14 cruisers, 33 destroyers and 23 transports! The vast materials of the convoy remind me of those of ours that committed to the battle of Philippines and Java, though there is no comparison in scale between the two. There is no difference in fact that only these vast scales of landing forces will win the victory.
Based on the wishful thinking by the Imperial HQ that the US Marine Corps were about 2,000 or so, Ichiki-shitai was divided up and dispatched to Guadalcanal with small arms. I was excited when I watched an advance troop making a sortie in 6 destroyers, and thought it was 'the modern way of battle'. After that we realized keenly that naval vessels could unload few units and weapons.)
Practiced singing martial songs after dinner and taught 'A Hero Song'. It was fun that soldiers cried 'Excellent! Excellent!'. Heard about military gains in naval battle of Solomons. Great!! Gandhi and his fellow members were arrested, a stormy outlook faces India.
(*We may have been bound for Truk in the afternoon of August 8.)
We may be under the command of 17th corps.
Our destroyers and planes gave chase to an enemy submarine on the port side. Got to Truk. Kirin (*Japanese beer, sold now.) for dinner was nice.
Went up to the upper deck in the morning. Quiet lagoon! Palm trees on small coral islands. Only patrol planes flying from time to time remind me that I am in the battlefield. Remembered Miss Akira Kamiya. I wonder how she is living these days or if she is married now.
Genjirou and Akira: "We held a wedding ceremony on Mar. 3, 1944 at Heian Shrine in Kyoto. It was a Shinto Wedding".
The 1st echelon under command of Col. Ichiki divided up and will make a sortie in 6 destroyers. It's really thrilling, I think this will be the way of landing operations in future. Only 2 'battalion gun's
(*70mm caliber howitzer deployed to an infantry battalion. Portable apart by men or draft horses) were deployed as heavy firearms. All men looked high-spirited except 4 officers of 8TAS, our company.
(*I was wrong. A landing operation must be carried out with strong support by naval vessels and planes. We realized it keenly on the island, Guadalcanal.)
Early in the morning, 1st echelon of Ichiki-shitai made a sortie bound to the South, loaded on 6 destroyers, rushing in the refreshing air of coral islands.
(*An organization of 1st echelon of Ichiki-shitai was as follows: Commander Col. Kiyonao Ichiki, an adjutant of battalion HQ Captain Togashi and 15 officers, 4 companies with 105 men to each, 1 Battalion-gun platoon with 2 guns, 1 construction company attached to MG company. A total of 906 men.
Heavy firearms company and most of the food and ammunition were left on Boston-Maru, and we 2nd echelon were to land with them 4 days after 1st echelon had landed.
An organization of 2nd echelon was as follows: Commander Maj. Mizuno, the rest of the soldiers of HQ and 4 infantry companies, Antitank-gun Company with 4 guns, 'Regimental-gun' Company with 4 heavy guns, 8th Independent Antitank-gun Company(8TAS) with 6 guns, and Construction Company. A total of about 1300 men.
Both echelons started at the same time, but 1st echelon on destroyers making 25 knots ran far ahead of 2nd echelon on transports making 8.5 knots, and they soon disappeared from our sight. How reliable and enviable they looked!
1st echelon landed on Taivu point at 23:00 August 16 with no interception, and advanced before 2nd echelon's arrival.)
After 24 hours duty, sleeping was the biggest event of today. 2nd Lt. Taniguchi has a bad cold.
(*1 Regimental-gun was on the bow of the transport, and 2 Antitank-guns on the port for AA and Antisubmarine guns. Officers were on duty with those soldiers.)
Radio news of the enemy mentioned our action. It also said Japanese are the poor people who wait a genocide and are robbed of their season's delightful events and enjoying a pleasure trip by cruel military clique. We are advancing steadily. Fight and defend! Naval landing force, construction unit, with all your strength!
It has been 20 days since I brushed my teeth with tooth powder last. Daily necessities to buy next time: A dozen of soap, a dozen of tooth powder, a sheaf of tissue paper, ointment for insect bite, liquid for athlete's foot, a diary, notebooks, razor blades, tooth brushes and ink.
(*Moving South from Truk, We 2nd echelon and Naval Landing Force boarded on Kinryu-Maru, were escorted by destroyers, 4 patrol vessels of 24th destroyers division (squadron?) and light cruiser Jintu, the flagship of 2nd destroyer division. Transports were really slow and we doubted if we could reach the battlefield before we sank, though we got used to this dangerous situation soon. I listened to the song of 'A Lakeside Hotel' sung by movie star Mieko Takamine, in the saloon of Daihuku-Maru in the night, when a strange feeling of uneasiness, relaxation and ridiculousness caught us. I remember the song and nights on the transport Daihuku-Maru.)
It's vexing that we were forced to make U-turn when 1st echelon would make a night attack at anytime tonight, though the convoy will often make a U-turn in landing operations, because of a naval engagement.
The news of 14:00, perhaps by enemy radio. Ichiki-Shitai landed before daylight on 18 and advanced to the airfield, enemy reinforcements landed on 20 on the other side. And we haven't occupied the airfield yet. We estimate Ichiki-Shitai will make a night attack tonight, retake and occupy the whole airfield area. They will exterminate all the enemies on Guadalcanal with the aid of us 2nd echelon, but our transports are fatally slow!
(*It was Ichiki-Shitai that had been almost 100% exterminated by 9:00AM of this day -- we didn't know that then. )
An air-raid alarm after breakfast. Sprang out to the deck, one enemy plane (a large flying boat?) sighted starboard ahead in the dark clouds. It was circling around our convoy low above the rough sea, and was supposed it would report our action to their carriers. An escort light cruiser Jintu ordered convoy to U-turn and evacuate in haste, and we rushed back at full speed.
We company officers guessed why the Imperial Navy hadn't come and helped our convoy, and worried that we might be drowned before our duty. Why doesn't Navy crush the enemy? There would be no victory without command of the seas and air. And we know well that only excellent arms and material superiority will always win the victory.
And what is even worse, our transports doesn't have any AA guns. KWID radio said one Japanese battalion had landed on Guadalcanal island, and had been completely exterminated. Also it said Japanese seemed to have succeeded in the night attack, but in the daylight US made a counterattack, and killed 670 of 700. Even such a rumor really gets on my nerves, of course it's an old trick of the enemy. We are withdrawing back the way we came while 1st echelon are fighting.
Many air-raid alarms in the morning. Enemy scouting planes are threatening our convoy same as yesterday. And our only AA arms are MG.
14:00, 2 heavy cruisers arrived and we are relieved by their escort. We will land tomorrow. Company officers toasted to the victory.
(*Imperial HQ released on 16:00 August 27, that the air force of the Imperial Navy in Solomon Islands area attacked US reinforcements in the eastern area of islands on August 24, destroyed and drove away US forces. Their losses were: 1 new carrier badly damaged, 1 medium-sized carrier some damage, 1 battleship some damage. Ours were: 1 light carrier badly damaged, 1 destroyer sank. Imperial HQ called this battle the 2nd Battle of the Solomon Sea (US called it the Battle of the Eastern Solomon Sea). I saw the battle. The escort light cruiser Jintu was badly damaged, Kinryu-Maru sank with the men of Naval Landing Force, and the destroyer Mutsuki sank in a rescue operation.)
It was chilly last night and the morning was bright and beautiful. We were on duty and were glad that the convoy was reinforced by 5 destroyers. Suddenly a flash and black smoke rose on the mast of Jintu that was portside ahead. Enemy planes attacked us through a break in the clouds. We didn't know of the surprise attack before bombing. Next moment, black smoke rose on Kinryu-Maru on portside ahead, and a landing boat loaded on the deck was scattered into bits.
It all happened in an instant, perhaps in less than a minute.
I was just on duty on the deck. "Jintu was done in!" deckhands shouted. Enemy bomber attacked our ship next. It made a sharp rise, U-tuned and charged straight at our ship from ahead. The huge body of the enemy plane, the roar of its engines; I have resigned almost all hopes. A bomb exploded near the stem, I thought its fragments scattered to the bridge, but the bomb fell in the sea and our ship was not damaged. I shouted 'Rudder!'. Because I worried that the bomb which had exploded at close range might have damaged the rudder. A gunner on the Regimental gun (* a heavy gun equipped to Ichiki-shitai) raised his hand and requested to fire. I gave the order at once and let it fire.
(*My friend Yamamoto said in his memoranda the gun that had been tied to the bow did not fire at that time, because the gun and its shells were not for AA shooting. But I was on duty at that time and soldiers did fire the gun. The firing did not damage enemy bomber, but the pilots must have seen the fire. They might have shrank for a moment, though they had struck Jintu and Kinryu-Maru.)
4 enemy planes have completely damaged our convoy! Jintu was badly damaged, Kinryu-Maru was helpless in a big fire and in 10 minutes raging flames and smoke covered up half of the ship. The ship was abandoned after 40 minutes. The convoy went up north after the confusion of the air raid.
10:00 We could see a huge column of black smoke rising high on the horizon. The first mate said it would be us next time. I only nodded.
14:40 An air-raid alarm warning '6 enemy planes', but they were our Zero-fighters. My eyes were filled with tears. If they had come in the morning, they surely would have exterminated the bombers. In the war of today, even the most excellent battleships and other vessels are no match for airplanes. Who commands the air commands the sea and land. Airplanes! I'll never forget today.
(*Kinryu-Maru with its full load of weapons and naval brigade, was abandoned because of the bombing and the big fire. The destroyer Mutsuki had been in rescue operations bringing it alongside the burning Kinryu-maru. They helped soldiers of the naval brigade and were accommodated by the deck orderly. I was watching these 2 ships from the bridge of Daihuku-Maru that had been going up north. Suddenly a huge column of water rose covering Mutsuki. It rose higher than the mast of Kinryu-Maru and lowered still. I could not see the destroyer anywhere. I watched it in dumb surprise.)
(**Mutsuki was hit directly by a bomb dropped from one of 4 B-17 bombers flown from Espiritu Santo island.)
16:00, The convoy has been rushing to Shortland (*SE of Bougainville island.) since this morning escorted by naval airplanes. The attack on Guadalcanal suffered 4 setbacks, and we will have to reorganize the unit and weapons.
Maj. Mizuno returned from the liaison meeting at 22:00. It was decided the 2nd Echelon would be divided up and loaded in 3 destroyers (*patrol vessels). But how should we divide the unit? Even the brave and experienced Col. Ichiki who had lectured on the night attack in Infantry School, seems to be fighting a hard battle.
The first contact with 1st Echelon was monitored in the evening of 25, and it was sent in the name of 1st Lt. Sakakibara, not of Col. Ichiki. It's no ordinary case!
Perhaps having spent all ammo and provisions, 900 brave men must fight a hand-to-hand fight! Enemy seems to have anti-tank guns of 30 odd, many AA guns. Of course they are sure to have a lot of heavy MGs. And many fighters and bombers!
We officers of 8TAS requested a lot of ammunition to be transported, though Maj. Mizuno insisted that battalion guns must have been destroyed. We also requested regimental guns to be unloaded instead of 4 antitank guns. But our plan was not adopted because of the limited loading capacity of patrol vessels, and we did not have enough time.
4 antitank guns can't defeat 30. Only the Regimental guns (*heavy guns) gain control of the enemy. Only a drop in the bucket! A fool hunts for misfortune! A shortage of firepower will force us into inconsistent battles, double our losses, and must raise the morale of the enemy. Of course Maj. Mizuno knows it only too well, and he must lead the 2nd Echelon into the death-trap. Ichiki-Shitai has been the unlucky unit. They and 8TAS turned back from Midway Operations because of the "Great Victory" of the Navy. How great and empty the victory was! Only 6 hours after departing Guam, we were ordered to return home, the to Guadalcanal. The over-aged and slow transports for use of going back home, were rushed to the most dangerous sea area of the Solomons with no AA guns.
Japanese 150mm Regimental Gun
The 1st echelon should not be blamed for a failure in carrying out their duty. The upper levels of the Army or the Imperial HQ should be blamed for their wishful thinking.
(*That was the last time I saw Maj. Mizuno, he seemed to have prepared himself for death. I remember that.)
15:20, 100 men left Daihuku-Maru, and loaded on the patrol vessel. The Captain welcomed us. The 1st Echelon of Kawaguti (divided up in 7 destroyers) detachment was almost exterminated at sea, and only 83 were rescued. Departure was postponed until tomorrow.
(*1st Lt. Nemoto and his 1st platoon stayed behind. A formation of the landing force: Ist and 2nd platoon, 2nd Lt. Taniguti and 3rd platoon, and 2nd Lt. Kinosita and 4th platoon, and direction squad.)
(*We had dinner with the Captain of the patrol-vessel in his cramped cabin. Complaining the lack of fresh vegetables, he opened many canned foods for us. I'm sorry I can't remember his name. )
After 9:00, An air-raid alarm "Big air formation!" surprised the Captain. And that was found out to be 18 of our airplanes attacking Guadalcanal.
14:00, made an advance.
Mizuno Butai (400) and Kawaguti detachment anchored on the point 150n.m. from Guadalcanal to avoid an air-raid.
(*I be sure where we anchored, but I remember we hid ourselves in a small bay of New Georgia where thick jungle grew near the beach. We were dashing through the Slot at full speed (32n.m./h) to the SE. )
5:40, Enemy plane found us. Avoidance action.
12:20, Our 15 bombers, 8 fighters flew over us. Enemy planes counterattacked obstinately. 2 times in the afternoon, and same in the night. 2 bombs exploded at close range, less than 50m.
21:30, landed in the face of the enemy. Enemy planes counterattacked. Was shelled by one destroyer after landing, but no damage. Made contact with 1st echelon, 1st Lt. Sakakibara said Col. Ichiki died in action.
(*Our patrol vessel rushed with a big white wake, far faster than that slowest transport. And we were sure that its high-speed would break through the enemy's defenses.)
The lee of an island in the Slot, the sky and the sea where we took shelter, was really beautiful. But all the next day, we had to fight and avoid fierce air raids. Our ship went zigzagging avoiding an air raid at full speed, and fired AA guns blindly. We soldiers of the army could nothing but clung to the deck and ducked our heads.
2 or 3 enemy bombers flew in our direction and bombed our ship. 3 or 4 bombs, first they looked like poppy seeds, next they came close to us, whizzed and pierced the sea. Our ship takes a turn, then next, bombs fall on the opposite side!
Bombers disappeared from our sight after 3 or 4 attacks. At night we felt relieved. Night bombing caused no damage. And cautiously, really cautiously, we approached into the coast of Taivu point.
And with no delay, guns, ammunition and soldiers were unloaded. Just after night bombing when we were to leave the beach prepared for a march, one destroyer appeared from the dark from the direction of Lungga Point. It stopped and suddenly shelled us furiously. No time for sheltering arms and equipment, soldiers ran off in all directions, and next moment nobody was left on the beach except me. "I don't care if a shell hits me." I walked and left the deserted beach; the last of the unit to leave.
Fortunately the impact area of the level shelling was deep behind the beach, and though the explosions surprised us, we had no damage and soon restored order. If that shelling had hit us directly, 8TAS would have been completely destroyed on the landing spot in that moment.
That night, bivouacking in the dark with our company, I felt quite relieved: "I'm on the ground. Not on the sea!". )
Enemy planes are patrolling all the time. Enemy cruisers passed through calmly with their transports.
21:00, the main force of Kawaguti Detachment unloaded successfully by 8 destroyers. No counterattack.
(*I don't know why I did not mention a fierce air raid on the Camp which took place early in the morning. But I remember that we put our equipment and small arms in gabled bamboo houses, probably of the head of the village last night. We rushed to coconut trees or jungles in a panic. And that morning bombing and strafing completely destroyed the village of natives in coconut trees.)
11:00, we reported to Maj. Gen. Kawaguti. He instructed that Ichiki detachment fought very well, but it was a mistake that they jumped into the enemy's strongest point. And added that the next battle will be an avenging battle.
(*In this way, 658 soldiers of 2nd Echelon of Ichiki-Shitai (Kuma or Bear) battalion including our 8th Independent Antitank Gun company (8TAS) were under command of Maj. Gen. Kawaguti. The formation of Kuma battalion was as follows.
I was appointed to a 2nd Lt. of the Army on Aug. 15, 1940.
HQ of Kuma battalion( commander: Maj. Mizuno, adjutant: 1st Lt. Sakakibara, 2nd Lt. Yamamoto (my friend)
1st Company: 1st Lt. Satou
2nd Company: 2nd lt. Hanehara
Antitank Gun Company: 1st Lt. Ohkubo ( 4 guns made in Japan, type 92 shiki )
Regimental Gun Company: 1st Lt. Wada ( 4 heavy guns )
8th Independent Antitank Gun Company: Capt. Nakaoka ( 8TAS, 4 guns made in Germany ( PAK 35/36 )
Engineer Platoon, Ammunition Squad, Luggage Squad.)
(*I don't know why almost all the documents about the battle of Guadalcanal recorded that 8TAS had only 4 guns, why not 6 guns!? 3 platoons must have had 2 guns to each. After the war, I asked Mr. Kinosita ( 4th platoon leader ) who held the key of missing 2 guns, and was completely ignored.)
20:00, Kokusho Bat. Advanced to Tetere , Watanabe Bat. to Mbalisuna R. Kuma Bat. defended the coast between Mberande R. and Tadhimboko.
22:50, 4 vessels of unidentified nationality appeared. We all strained but turned out they were a friendly force.
24:00, enemy planes doggedly attacked our position, beyond description! We took shelter under the jungle 200m to the west. Each made foxholes. 8TAS defended a landing spot.
From 06:50 to 07:15, the first furious strafing and bombing to the whole coast.
10:20 to 11:40, but the second attack was not so violent. We couldn't cook and crunched on dried bread.
21:40 last night. My trunks were unloaded with AA ammo. From 05:20, 20 minutes strafing and bombing. A landing boat (*"Daihatsu") was burnt down. A cave-dwelling is not so bad, in a word, "wherever I hang my hat is home".
Everybody has been longing for our planes to come and help us. We are glad with the information that a large unit may land in a few days .
(*Even this unconfirmed information - a rumor - brings us a some small pleasure.)
A little strafing and bombing. 8TAS was under direct control of Kawaguti detachment today.
20:30, destroyers landed Aoba detachment and the rest of Kawaguti detachment successfully. A main force of AA have landed too. It's raining like the rainy season in Japan today.
(* "A large unit may land in a few days" was this. I don't know details of "AA".)
Ordered to go ahead. Started at dusk. 2nd Lt. Taniguti and 8 soldiers were dispatched in advance to the line of Mbalisuna R. We held Taivu point for a week, and for 2 days were troubled with night rain.
(*A narrow village lane in sandy soil was covered with trees and well tramped down. Taniguti and the other men looked much more lively when they had parted from the boring foxhole life. The surface of the lane was strong enough and we carried guns smoothly. We looked in some houses surrounded by coconut palm, banana, papaya and other trees, but found no natives. I had seen no natives on Guadalcanal. )
13:30, 2nd Lt. Kinosita were dispatched in advance for scouting and guiding the route and the crossing point of the river. Sergeant Yamasita and 20 men carried ammo to the line of Mbalisuna R. As enemy planes often came flying over us, we went ahead in battle formation. In the night, Takatuki Engineer Unit rowed and carried us across the river with painful effort. 6.5km march. A pouring rain from 18:00 stopped for a while, and downpour began again from 21:00 until next morning. Having no shelters, we slept in the open, and Captain and all were soaked to the bone. There are many diarrhea patients and "the smart of crotch with chafing", (*"crotch rot") but the morale of the company is high. We are about at 2km West to Tetere.
(*We advanced to the side of Mbalisuna R. satisfactorily, but waited awhile before getting ready for a crossing of the river. The men of Takatuki Engineer Unit (*Osaka) built a raft in haste, and daringly built a bonfire for lighting. The river was so deep that we could not have crossed the river without the raft and bonfire. After crossing, we stood in formation waiting for an order to advance, but there was no order until next morning. So we had to lie down on the grass in the dark, in the downpour, drenched to the skin. )
Oka Regiment (*124th Infantry Regiment) landed on the western end of the island this morning. HQ of Detachment advanced to Tetere by "daihatu" last night. Captain went ahead to Tetere. Unexpectedly we are forced to spend time marching on the sandy beach. Soldiers are exhausted beyond our expectations.
Captain Nakaoka was appointed to the artillery commander, and takes command of 1 regimental gun platoon of Oka regiment, 1 machine gun platoon of 4th regiment, 1 machine gun platoon of 124th regiment, and 8TAS. I was appointed to be the deputy commander of 8TAS.
(*The march to Tetere was carried out in the daytime. Along the wide beach of Tadhimboko Bay, we could go no other route but the sandy lane or beach. Our guns with tires were primarily towed by tractors or tracks, and this time 11 men each with squad commander towed one gun. It was almost beyond human strength!)
This morning enemy unit landed at Taivu escorted by 1 cruiser and 6 destroyers, when we stood by all-out attack and were going to be placed at attacking point. Maj. Gen. Kawaguti is determined to execute our duties.
16:30, 8TAS started in advance with regimental gun platoon of Oka regiment. An air raid at fording point 4km west to Tetere scared us, but no damage. Passing this fording point, Ngalimbiu R. 150meters wide near Koli Point, and those deep sandy lanes forced upon us a hard struggle words cannot describe.
24:40, could contact with HQ.
01:50, a long rest. X day was moved up by one day, and was dated as September 12.
(*Lt. Col. Edson landed and attacked Tadhimboko, and they found it empty. He set fire to all Japanese equipment and burnt them down and evacuated. A war correspondent R. Tregaskis recorded the attack:"After fierce shelling of the beach, the marines landed easily. They found a 37mm caliber gun with tires near the shore of Tadhimboko village. It was the newest type and there was a complete set of ammo nearby. Another gun of the same type was by new foxholes in the jungle."
(*Only 8TAS had these "37 mm caliber gun with tires" in Guadalcanal. I fear these 2 guns were of 8TAS? But who committed these disgraceful act of giving up their arms before going into battle!? 3rd platoon? 4th platoon? To my regret, I don't remember detailed facts and reasons, and almost all my friends on Guadalcanal are departed now.)
American made 37 mm Anti-Tank Gun was based on German design. Probably similar to Japanese version
(*Ngalimbiu R. was the hardest place to cross for all the units advancing towards Koli Point. This river may be longer and wider than Lungga R. We went ahead on the beach route or the lane along the shelter of seaside trees, and came to a place where the beach was wide. We began crossing the river following other units. Though the riverbed was not really strong enough, the depth of the water was shallower than the line of our hip. We moved our guns into the gray water shining dimly in the evening dusk. The guns were submerged under water. Then, an enemy plane! Scouting or returning to the airfield? It came flying up from behind us, blinking red lights at the end of its wings. All commanders ordered their units to stop and stand still. The ominous plane flew low and slow, and disappeared in the direction of Lungga. If we had been bombarded on the ford we would have suffered serious damage and confusion. Even now I shudder at the mere thought of it!
After a while we could cross Ngalimbiu R. at last, and we had to go ahead along the same deep sandy lane and beach again! )
We had a hard time advancing from Tetere to Koli. We went on advancing to the line of Tenaru R. in the dusk for all-out attack, but only 4 km advance required us 5 and half hours. Watched out all night guarding our position against the attack from the beach.
In the morning, meeting with 1st Lt. Simokawa of 10th infantry com. that collaborated with us. Finished taking up our position. Enemy planes continure to raid our camp. Ilu R. position of the enemy has been strengthened. Cap. Hagiwara in charge of regimental gun was appointed shooting commander.
(*Twice after the war, I have surveyed where we had constructed the position on-the-spot, but I couldn't make it out. Now I estimate it was on the inner part of Red Beach where East-West Road is near, or about 200m ahead. We positioned our guns in a small dune behind the scattered bushes (about 20m from the water on the right). The regimental guns of Oka Reg. (2 guns, 75mm caliber) and other guns took their positions on the bank of the upper reaches of the river, along the edge of the broadleaf trees. 8TAS was put at the closest position to the seashore of all the Japanese forces. Sometimes we were so nervous when we found the periscopes of enemy submarines' appearing very close to us. They were reflecting the sunshine in calm but glaring sea.)
7th squad was put at the outpost on the line of Tenaru R. Navy planes are active in these last few days and gained some control of the air. Operations of the detachment are making good progress. One day's ration of rice was cut down to 2.7 dl. The main force of Aoba detachment will land at NW end of the island tonight. 1st Lt. Sakiyama and the other men were assigned to regimental gun platoon, and 2nd Lt. Nonaka and the other men to Simokawa unit. When we are hungry, we break and have coconuts.
(*Primarily one day's ration of rice was 7.2 dl. But two-thirds cut of ration didn't starve us yet. Soldiers already had learned how to drink coconut's water and moreover to eat the flesh. They were always full of vitality and curiosity!)
The address distributed by Maj. Gen. Kawaguti before the all-out-attack:"It's the time to offer your life for His Majesty the Emperor. The flower of Japanese infantrymen is in the bayonet-charge. This is what the enemy soldiers are most afraid of. The strong point of the enemy is superiority of firepower. But it will be able to do nothing in the night and in the jungle. When all-out-attack begins, break through the enemy's defenses without delay. Recapture our bitterest airfield. Rout, stab, kill, and exterminate the enemy before daybreak. We are sure of ultimate victory of the Imperial Army!"
September, Showa 17(* 1942)
Detachment Commander (*For better or worse this address was just like the Imperial Army's. But there was nothing else to do so. A counterattack on Tadhimboko Bay had destroyed a pretty large part of Japanese heavy firearms before arriving at the front. After all, the Japanese Army were forced to depend on the bayonet charge against their will.)
10:00, Many Japanese planes in flight formation bombed the airfield, but 5 were shot down.
11:00, a preliminary skirmish, they succeeded in driving back the enemy in 50 minutes, but 7 dead or injured.
16:50, the main force of 4th platoon advanced to Tenaru R. The action of the main force of Detachment is going on satisfactorily.
(*In fact, they could not arrive on the launching point of the attack yet because of the undulating landform and jungle. I watched Japanese bombers bombing the airfield, passing in flight formation, in the barrage laid down suddenly high above the airfield. It was exciting to see our planes flying easily and stately in the furious antiaircraft fire.
(*On outpost was 10th company and the other units. I heard continuous explosions and shots in the jungle ahead of us. After a short time I saw soldiers sent back to the rear crying out in pain. That was the first time I saw and heard wounded soldiers on Guadalcanal.)
20:00, We fired a volley at the enemy. The roar of guns filled the air of the dark night. But there was no reaction from the enemy camp. The main force of 8TAS advanced to Tenaru R.
(*X-day was postponed till the next day because the main force of Detachment did not arrive at the launching point of the all-out-attack. But the decision wasn't sent to the artillery that was positioned at the riverside of Tenaru and some distance from the main force.)
10:00, The main force of 8TAS advanced to Tenaru R. except 3rd platoon and a half of ammo squad.
10:40, a counterattack on our front, but drove back. We didn't sleep a wink and looked in the direction of enemy's camp from dusk till dawn, but we could find neither a sign of our victory nor even a small fire. An anxious night.
(*We were waiting for the big fire caused by an explosion at ammo dump or the other explosions. Regimental guns looked, shooting blindly at the airfield. As 8TAS was anti-tank gun company, we didn't fire a shot in the night. I and the staff Ohsone sent from HQ saw flares shining on enemy's camp hoping that they would succeed. There were no tanks attacking our position that night, and the day was breaking. And that was all I and 8TAS saw that night.)
(*On that morning there were some soldiers who had no rice. Some squads hadn't and the others had. I scolded them for their carelessness, and ordered them to share the rest of rice. Though the men who delivered rice grumbled more, 8TAS could have equally a small breakfast.)
(**(Itirou) Another antitank gun company of Kuma battalion (commanded by 1st Lt. Ohkubo, with 4 guns (type 92 shiki )), advanced to the grass plain following the infantrymen. 2nd Lt. Kidukuri told in 'The history of 28th Infantry Regiment' as follows:"We carried 4 guns in pieces. Waited in the dark at the bottom of a cliff under the grassy plain, standing by for the chance to attack. 1st Lt. Ohkubo ordered me to climb up the cliff and to scout. There was a cross fire on the plain and wounded infantrymen of a rifle company came back, retreating one after another. I thought their infantry company had been destroyed and I heard that Maj. Mizuno died. Furious gunfire stopped at daybreak. In a great hurry we carried up all guns on the plain on our shoulders and took up position. It was not long before 14 tanks came into sight out of the jungle and charged at us. Once they made a U-turn and disappeared back into the jungle, but again they appeared and charged fiercely at us. An expert gunner!
1st Lt. Ohkubo measured the distance between the onrushing tanks and us. He counted '1500', '1000' and ordered 'Fire!' at a distance of 500 m. All the gunners shot tanks one after another, and many tanks were put out of action and went up in flames. They made a counterattack with their cannons and machineguns. But we fired at them at point-blank range before the running tanks could find us through their small front view. A tank spouted black smoke from the turret, a tank was enveloped in raging flames, a tank set off an explosion in the body, and a tank rushed blindly towards us, fell over a precipice on its back, and flames poured from the tank. We destroyed 10 tanks of 14, and 4 retreated into the jungle. Then enemy rained down tons of trench mortar shells on our head next. They destroyed one of our guns.
The attack that was carried out full of confidence seems to be a failure. Enemy planes are already taking off safely in the morning. How mortifying! We buried our guns in the sands of the position and went ahead to gathering point. We had the last ration of rice cut down to 1.8 dl/day for breakfast, and we had nothing for lunch.
14:00, started retreat. Advanced in the jungle guarding against air raid. Camped out in jungle surrounded by grass plains. It was strange that I felt a peace of mind in the bright sickle moonshine. All our efforts were in vain. The Japanese army had never experienced such a battle in its history. Their firepower had overwhelmed us, and we had put too much confidence in our charging-power. Only after our superior firepower can compete with their superior firepower, will the charging-power of the Imperial Army win a victory. I wish to say 'Root out the old concept of the battle!'.
(*We had been expecting to get 'Roosevelt meals' in the airfield. But things did not go as I wanted. We were hungry and the men of the squad in our front were more hungry and exhausted. Early in the morning our front was under fire from the enemy, the enemy fired with deep shooting range, and the gunshot seemed to be coming close to us. But for all that the men of 8TAS came home all unhurt. And we took an order from Cap. Nakaoka who had been commanding the artillery unit in the HQ 200 or 300m behind us. 'The evacuation begins in the afternoon. Dispose and bury all guns, but carry ammunitions'
Marines take a look at captured Japanese 70mm gun
I told the men the order, and after we removed breech-blocks, we buried all guns. I felt our duty had come to the end. We gave up our main arms that we carried from Kyoto, Atimonan (Philippine, facing Lamon Bay), Manila, Lingayen, Surabaya (Java), Malang, Kao-Hsiung (Taiwan), Moji (Japan, but didn't go on shore!), Saipan, Midway (as you know landing operations stopped), Guam, and to Guadalcanal. We were to set our retreating steps to Mt. Austen. )
Deep and heavy were the sands of Koli
Gunners and ammo men carried their guns
May Gods praise their duties holy
Anti-tank Gun Company carried them out
Such a heavy load, in pain and hardness
(**Itirou: My father composed many 'tanka' poems (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) in an field hospital of Bougainville and added more after war. I'm sorry I can't translate them well keeping their rhythm and sight they themselves wish to tell us. This is one that I recklessly translated. 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!' )
The wind is blowing dolefully
Through the Bloody Hill of the Island
Clouds are low and dark above the old battlefield
And grasses are growing and growing
On the remains of war dead
(*When I visited Edson Hill in 1979, I saw 4 American women in the grass plain near the Hill. I thought they were war bereaved and made a deep bow. They bowed too.)
14:00, We evacuated from the position carrying as much ammo as we could have by our captain's order. First we went through coconut groves, grassy plains overgrown with reeds higher than our height, outer edge of the jungle trees and grasses, guided by an advance unit. We walked with heavy steps guarding against enemy planes, hiding ourselves so as not to be found.
When we took the second rest, I ordered soldiers to bury the ammo against our captain's order. I thought that it was useless to carry ammo having no guns, and it would be simply toil and would exhaust our men. We were hungry and thirsty. We went on evacuating guarding against planes when it grew dark quietly.
It was already dark when we went down the grass slope along the riverside. I slipped down the slope and couldn't walk any further.
We could walk no more. So there we took a long rest in unreleased marching formation. We were on the end of the right wing of the attacking force, and lined up at the very end of the march detouring around the south of Mt. Austen.
We couldn't make contact with an advance unit. Though 2nd Lt. Taniguti reproached me that I didn't have the guts of our 'predecessor commander', there was no help for it. I said nothing and passed the night.
(*We went up along Tenaru R. and next Lungga R. and we could hardly have rice till September 29 when we caught up to the HQ constructed at the side of Matanikou R.)
Genjirou and Akira in Kyoto, 1995.
Go to Part II - "My Guadalcanal" by Genjirou Inui