Australia–Japan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial At the same time as the Army attacked Aitape, a reconnaissance unit was sent to the area on the southern side of the Alexander Range. At the time of its despatch, its duties were the splendid plan of going ahead as far as distant Hollandia, reconnoitring the terrain and contacting friendly units. However, after its departure, these duties were reduced. Its first objective was to make the enemy at Aitape feel that there was a danger at his back, and thus indirectly help our frontal attack by absorbing the attention of the enemy strength in that area. Its second objective was a direct one – to investigate local resources in a wide area about which nothing was known, and to have this material ready as useful data in subsequent operations. This reconnaissance unit was not very large. But what it lacked in numbers it made up in ability and concentration, and great things could be expected from it. The officers of this unit, OTAKA, ISHII, NARIAI, KITAMOTO and others were all young and had been given special training in this type of duty. They went ahead to the area on the southern side of the Alexander Range, and every day reported by wireless about their reconnaissance. The information was of great value to me, in the rear H.Q. at Sarupu, for I obtained details about local resources which enabled me to make plans for self-support in the future. Order to subordinate units concerning commencement of decisive ambush warfare. (18th March 1945) Mentioned in Despatches Mo Battle Order Number 371. Receipt of Letter of Approval. To 18th Army and its Attached Units. 16. Position in the Wewak Area, Eastern Front.
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war
Southern Cross: XX The change to ambushes and subsequent operations
This reconnaissance party, commanded by Captain OTAKA, left Boikin on 10th May and were away for over six months – till 26th November. They operated under difficult conditions. They penetrated deeply into enemy territory, advanced to the north and were very useful both in the execution of the Aitape operation and also in the later change over to the ambush situation. This unit’s vanguard movement was the longest one (in time) of all in the three years of operations of 18th Army.
This unit was given the duty of collecting operational material which was essential both for the execution of the army’s Aitape campaign and also for the Hollandia campaign, which was scheduled to follow on after it. On 10th May it chose several routes and left the Boikin area, passing through the region south of the Alexander and Torricelli Ranges, and headed for the Hollandia region. Then, as a result of the change in the all-over situation, the army decided to concentrate its whole strength on the Aitape region and to attack the enemy at Aitape. From 13th June onwards, it passed near Yuatongu and Suwau and late in July advanced to near Winbe. Here eighteen men under Captains NARIAI and ISHII surmounted the peak of the Goraiseru range, advanced to the vicinity of Lupai and Waruwari. Here they made a reconnaissance of the enemy situation in the area, and also hindered the construction of the enemy’s secret report communications. It advanced again, held part of the enemy in this area in check, and not only closely helped the execution of the army’s Aitape campaign but also made easy the difficult changeover to desperate ambush warfare. Right throughout this period it carried out its duties splendidly.
In carrying out this penetration of the enemy over untrodden peaks, they travelled 625 miles, found their food among the enemy; their food was not very good and they had absolutely no flavouring. In addition, they were harassed by natives for the two hundred-odd days they were on the move, and during this period they had more than ten engagements with the enemy. Although they had 33 men killed or wounded, the morale of every man remained high; they stole a march on the enemy and repulsed him; they seized a large quantity of booty and although they were working alone in a distant, barbaric land, without paying attention to the fact that they had casualties, they splendidly maintained good wireless contact.
The Operation of Conversion to Ambush.
The Army’s conversion to ambush was carried out in two stages. The first stage of this contraction was carried out with the object of withdrawing first of all from the enemy in the Aitape area in the region east of the Tori River. The second stage was to place in the future ambush position the troops withdrawn from the enemy. Although it was called an ambush situation, from the very beginning it was not possible to adhere to strictly strategical dispositions. If they all concentrated in one place, with no food, there would be nothing to do but fall fighting, side by side. First they must use their local food supplies, regain their fighting strength and meet the enemy. So ambush dispositions just had to be decided on when consideration was given to both the enemy’s attack decision and to the local food situation. Since the density of food on the spot was very low, it was necessary to allot each unit a fairly extensive area, so this entailed a great deal of movement and trouble.
In the first phase of contraction, no obstacle was encountered in the withdrawal because the enemy attack was slow. It was completed, but the biggest problem was evacuation of the wounded and the problem of their food. Already the front line troops had been in battle for a long period and the food was completely exhausted. When they began their withdrawal they had hardly a grain of rice. Each unit, enduring the pangs of hunger, had to look for sago palms round about, and it is easy to imagine how distressing this was. It was especially difficult for the casualties. There were some who could walk, but those who found it difficult to walk had to be taken back on makeshift stretchers. Gradually with the increase in stretcher cases, it became impossible to carry them, and the casualties protested against being carried. They were quite ready to entrust their fate to Heaven with the aid of these sago palms land gardens. How many of these regained their strength and overtook their original units?
The casualties on no occasion made complaints or were dissatisfied. Everywhere could be heard statements such as: "We shall do the best we can in the circumstances. You must withdraw as quickly as you can and be ready for your next task," as the casualties urged on their comrades. The living were not afraid to die. They were very calm and composed, with a deep resignation, even though they were in the very path of death and could see him approach; but they told the others it was not for them to worry. It may seem unsympathetic and heartless that we could not nurse our sick comrades, so I would like to explain why it was impossible..
The casualties occurred when we were transferring, i.e. when we were on the march. If an army is stationary there are other means of transport and evacuation is possible, but if it is on the march, transport is necessary. If there were five healthy men, they could accompany one casualty; if there were only three, this was not possible. But in a transfer like this, the strength of every man was very low, and only about 50% or 60% would be in good condition. Where the percentage of troops who found it hard to move reached 5% or 10%, the movement of the comparatively healthy troops would be slowed down by 30% or 40% and their daily rate of travel would be a mere 3-5 miles. Therefore this was not advisable no matter how many troops there were. It was quite impossible to save people in the end, because if the strong ones went on in this fashion they would be the incapacitated tomorrow. If the number of sick people increased, it would not be possible for the army to move. So, for these reasons, the contraction campaign at Aitape was extremely difficult – added to these, there was the enemy position, and the lack of food which caused further outbreaks of illness. And because also of the extraordinary strain and efforts they had undergone, the autumn when they were about to transfer to an ambush situation was the final test for the army.
First, there was the Aotsu Detachment’s struggle in the Sonam area. The enemy in the Aitape area, alternating with the American forces, had the Australian 6th Division as its front line, and they opened their attack at the end of November. One of their battalions threatened our front line near Marujip.
At that time this area was garrisoned by the commander of the infantry of the infantry of the 41st Division, intrepid Major General AOTSU, known throughout the army for his thoroughness and calm.
Aotsu Detachment were attempting to be self supporting and were trying to overcome immense difficulties and were acting as protection for establishment of a self supporting base in 20th Division’s But region and for the transfer of the main strength of 21st Division. However, the situation in that area did not permit of optimism about the Detachment’s fighting strength. The Army planned to increase the Division’s fighting strength and early in December it reinforced the Detachment with the main strength of No.9 Loading Unit and Otaka Reconnaissance unit, which was recovering its fighting strength near Nambuk, under the amended name of Moko advance unit.
Now for the Detachment’s self support situation. In their own area there were already no sago palms, but there were some in part of 20th Division’s area on the right bank of the Sonam area. About 500 weak soldiers were employed, noisily gathering the sago and supplying it to the front line, where it was barely enough to keep them alive. The army was on emergency rations. The last rice and barley brought by barge was unfortunately washed away by violent rain. The detachment’s strength of men capable of movement was no more than 250, to receive the enemy’s main attack.
As a result of the vigorous command of the Division commander, all the officers and men were fearless, and gave no thought to their acute shortage of food and ammunition but stubbornly faced the onslaught.
The lst Battalion of 237th Infantry Regiment, with command over No.9 Loading Unit, which was with it, a total strength of 60 men (fighting strength 40 men) advanced to the vicinity of Cape Djeruan and began to rout part of the enemy who had advanced to the area east of Cape Djeruan Then they met an attack from a powerful enemy who was accompanied by tanks, with cooperating air and artillery fire; but these lone troops, ignoring their lack of food and ammunition, bravely repelled the enemy in the Cape Djeruan area for about two weeks. On the 14th day, the enemy completely encircled their left flank, so they withdrew to the Sarupu vicinity and protected the Detachment’s attack.
The Detachment Commander drew up a plan to use a powerful unit from the coast area and part from the Balif and Malin area to make a concerted attack Aroemi and Sowam regions, thus performing his duty by a decisive action. He did not mind whether or not the reinforcements arrived, but planned a decisive action near Djeruan first of all, and he used all his strength to participate in the fighting in that area. However, the odds were hopelessly against them and they were unable to capture Cape Djeruan.
The Army planned to strengthen Aotsu Detachment’s fighting strength. As well as handing over all the provisions for the use of 41st Division, which were in this region, to Aotsu Detachment, it was reinforced by one battalion of 239th Infantry Regiment. The quick advance of Moko unit, which had gone ahead, was pressed on and it was reinforced by a company of healthy soldiers from 20th Division. It was the end of December, 1944.
On 14th January the Sawada Composite Company of 80th Infantry Regiment, 20th Division, on 19th MOJO Advance Unit, on 23rd the 3rd Battalion of 15th Infantry Regiment, 51st Division, advanced to the neighbourhood of Aroemi and Sowam.
The Sowam unit, as from 16th, made an attack on the enemy east of Sarupu, who had been continuously attacking fiercely. It was able to hold the strategic, mountain peak position, and the Detachment Commander on 28th January changed to the decisive battle in order to put pressure on the enemy in the Sarupu River valley, gradually overwhelmed the enemy and in the coastal area on 30th January was able to advance to near Sarupu.
However, as a result of a pertinacious attack by the powerful enemy in that area, and a strong advance from the Malin area and north of it, it was judged necessary to regulate the overall unit strength.
The enemy strength was not powerful in front of Aotsu Detachment but the army expected ceaseless attacks from them, and in view of the fighting strength of Aotsu Detachment and the changes in the strategic situation in that area, ordered that 20th Division should prepare, to switch over to the attack as soon as circumstances allowed.
The thing that worried Army most about all of this was the character of the commander of Aotsu Detachment. In the performance of his duty he did not acknowledge the word ‘defeat’. Their strength and ours were disproportionate, and even if Aotsu Detachment’s attack did not make the normal progress, they must not be sacrificed prematurely but would be needed to cooperate in the action carried out by 20th Division.
Condition of 41st Division Main Strength immediately after Southward Transfer over Mountains.
As far as concerns the position in the area of 41st Division main strength, south of the mountains, from late November in the Perimbil area the enemy position gradually became stiff; the enemy in the Satenisyas and Yambes area began wriggling movements but the units in the area planned to continue to hold on to the Perimbil strong point. They strove to concentrate a positive strength of troops and strengthen the position. However, as a result of the continual, intense air bombing, the position was demolished. Furthermore, not only were local resources exhausted, but in addition part of the enemy made an advance from the region of the left bank of the Numa Area in the direction of Rumaite, so eventually they decided to leave the place and on 29th December they withdrew towards Perenando.
At the end of December, the enemy south of the mountain suddenly became active; the enemy facing 238th Infantry Regiment had mortars and rose to a number of about 1,000, so that eventually this Regiment had to abandon Perenando.
The Division Commander, receiving this situation report at Luaite, and making a terrain reconnaissance of the region south of the estimated (?) that the enemy main strength would attack in the Balif area and part of it would attack along the foot of the mountain. He therefore decided to ambush the enemy first of all at the Seruni-Luaite line. However, the enemy advance in the Perimbil region was unexpectedly rapid and it appeared that a powerful force was going to attack the rear of Luaite from the area of the Nanu River left bank, so he made another decision to get the division ready near Barif and make a big attack on the enemy. They therefore left Luaite on 10th January and on 12th transferred to Barif.
Later in January the Division Commander attached H.Q. 41st Artillery Regiment to 54th L. of C. Garrison Unit; he had the Baranka-Barif line secured and used 239th Infantry Regiment attack the enemy directly in front of them. When their command was confused after the sudden attack, our troops advanced to near Orofuta and the commander decided to hold this area. On 27th January Divisional H.Q. were transferred to Irop.
On 10th February, the 54th L. of C. Garrison Unit which held Baranka and Barif were attacked by the enemy who advanced along the Nanu River valley. The Artillery Regiment H.Q. withdrew to Wakamizu and the L. of C. Garrison to Numang, and two or three days later they withdrew to Marop.
The plans of the enemy south west of the mountains were unexpectedly formidable and in addition, the strength of the units in the area was insufficient. Orders were given to reinforce the unit in the Maprik area and to make preparations for the main strength of 5th Shipping Regiment to be sent from the Sepik area to the Maprik area and for No.2 Field Meteorological Unit and 63rd Air Regiment to be despatched to the Marui area. Arrangements were also made for the 16th to 19th mobilized water companies to withdraw from the Mikau area to the Kararau region.
As I have explained before, the mobilized companies were units composed of Indian troops and had been stationed in the Mikau region, which was comparatively rich in resources, but now this had become the enemy’s front line and it was necessary to move them far to the rear, and into an area rich in sage palms. So keen was the GOC’s moral sense of affection for a friendly nation’s troops.
Thirdly, the Movements of the Enemy on the Western Front and Our Opposition
Estimation of the general situation early in February showed that the enemy was gradually pushing forward the offensive in a coordinated fashion on both the north and south sides of the mountain, and that he was preparing for the next step, attack. Furthermore, his manoeuvres in the eastern Sepik area concerned only part of his troops, and it was thought that the main strength would be used to attack from the west.
Our ambush strength in the river bank area north of the river was gradually becoming well organized, but in the west area, south of the mountains, it was practically non-existent. Before our self-supporting basis had been established, we were exposed to a completely new enemy attack. The army was unable to avoid giving preference to its arrangements for ambush.
In contrasting the value of the areas north and south of the mountains, it was decided that the north was essential in order to hold the But airfield. On the other hand, in the south area, if a break through were made in the area containing resources at the foot of the Kakoebis, Numbok and Sassoia Mountains, the supply resources of the northern region would be lost, so that it was a problem of life and death for the army. Moreover, in the Sepitsu area the enemy advanced as he pleased and was threatening the basis of the army’s existence and this was of huge strategical importance. Thereupon the army quickly transferred the vital spot for the control of operations to the area south of the mountains. Aotsu Detachment and Asata Unit entered the command of 20th Division commander; at the same time Miyake unit and the 20th Division units which were in the area south of the mountains were forbidden to transfer to the northern area and were brought directly under the army’s control. In addition the area between Aotsu Detachment and 41st Division was prepared in every way to prevent a break through.
The Fighting in the Aroemi, Nagipem and Sonam Region
The commander of Aotsu Detachment, from late January, transferred his attack from Sonam to Kisan (T.N. "Flag Mountain") and, securing the line there, he awaited the arrival of 3rd Battalion, 239th Infantry Regiment, planning to make a second attack. In accordance with the Detachment Commander’s plan, every unit carried out fleeting attacks in the Surup and Kisan areas, at Malin and north of there (Yoshino Mountain, Sakura mountain), and in the Aboama area.
Fighting in the Aloemi and Nagipem Region
The Detachment Commander expected that the enemy, who had broken through in the coastal area, would use his main strength to attack in the coastal region and with a powerful section would advance in the Aloemi area; he had the Sonam area commander hold the Aloemi and Nagipem areas with his main strength and used part of it to occupy the Shimizu Mountain and Loan region, while he himself transferred to the upper Sonam river reaches.
On 10th February the Moko Advanced Unit, after overwhelming, for the second time, a powerful enemy at Sakura Mountain moved to Aboama: 3rd Battalion 237th Infantry Regiment garrisoned its rear, cooperated in the coastal area fighting and protected the change in the Sonam area dispositions.
On 17th February the eagerly awaited 3rd Battalion (Morinaga Battalion) 239th Infantry Regiment arrived at Aloemi. It entered the command of the Sonam area commander and served in the defence of Aloemi and Nagipem. From 23rd February the enemy in that area changed to the attack and made repeated assaults against Ashigara Mountain, the high ground south of Aloemi, Hakone Mountain and Aloemi. The Sonam area commander, with unified control of all the army units, made all efforts for determined fighting; Morinaga Battalion Commander kept up a continual brave struggle, and when their food was exhausted they ate grass, holding back the enemy advance. On 4th, 6th, 8th March there were violent enemy attacks in the Nagipem area. The officers and men of the battalion, which was reduced to a third of its strength, continued their life and death struggle until, as a result of an order on the 10th, they withdrew to the area east of the Sonam. They restrained the enemy main strength in this area and thus delayed the attack by the enemy in the coastal region. During this period, the Kachiyama Company of 115th Regiment on 28th February performed their last gallant fight near the fording place at the mouth of the Sonam River. As for the Kisan (region south of Sarupu) area, after Yamashita Battalion withdrew, Aoki Battalion held it by themselves on 16th, 17th and 19th February they several times had fierce attacks from combined infantry guns and aircraft units, and these attacks were repelled each time, so that there was considerable bloodshed. But the Battalion’s fighting morale flourished; when their food was exhausted they ate grass and leaves and bark to stave off their hunger; when their weapons and ammunition were exhausted they used tooth and nail. A few men protected several kilometres of mountain positions, and the enemy did not easily achieve his purpose. Again, on 20th February, they made a violent attack on the position held by the battalion which was the enemy'’ main strength, and with their spirits rising a hundred fold they overwhelmed them on the hill north of Kisan and in a big attack achieved considerable success; next, in accordance with orders, they transferred to the Sonam River line and occupied it.
(iii) The Battle of the Hill East of Sonam River
After the battle in the Nagipem area, the Detachment Commander with the Sonam area unit withdrew to the area east of the Sonam River and repulsed the enemy. But late in February the enemy near the coast forded the Sonam River and his main strength broke through the 20th Division’s Sonam garrison (6th Company 18th Infantry Regiment, and the total strength, 30 men, of 35th Field Machine Gun Company) near Sonam. On the 14th he advanced to the Linihok River and his artillery appeared east of Sonam River.
The Detachment Commander, from 15th March, was also commanding the 20th Division units in the But area, and became their commanding officer and was in charge of the defence of the But region. In accordance with orders from 20th Division, he used the 80th Infantry Regiment, which was in the But region, to hold with all their might the Linihok and Balam region.
On 12th March part of the enemy’s troops attacked Shokanzan (T.N. or Seikanzan) and on 14th Shimizu Mountain; the garrison in the area, Kuzunishi Battalion and Morinaga Battalion both inflicted heavy losses and repulsed them; the Sonam area units, preparing for the deterioration in the coastal area, strengthened the defence of the Shimizu Mountain and Loan region and made ready for the coming battle.
(iv) 20th Division’s Battle in the But region
From 14th March the enemy, who had pressed on to the Linihok River, used a powerful part of his force to advance eastwards along the coastal road and came to the vicinity of Balam.
The Kajibara Company of 21st Airfield Battalion on 15th March suddenly advanced to the Balam River line, drove back about 20 of the enemy who had advanced to this line, secured the right bank of this river and on the morning of 16th came to grips in front of their position with the enemy who had arrived to make an attack to gain the vital coast road; three attacks were made. At about 8.30 the same day they had a violent concentration of fire from the enemy’s artillery. Then at 10.30 about 200 of the enemy, covered by artillery fire, made a violent attack. The company commander had, during the morning, lost his platoon commander and men, and the defenders of the position numbered a mere 5 men. In addition, the coast was level, with no protecting features, and the position was gradually demolished. The battle became distressingly violent but the company commander bravely encouraged his subordinates, wielded his own rifle and defended the position by arranging the company in a circle.
Eventually they were in a state of siege, and at 12:40 hours after inflicting heavy losses on the enemy their sacrifice was ended.
Here the But Area Unit Commander (formerly commander of Aotsu Detachment) encouraged 80th Infantry Regiment, and quickly ordered a desperate defence of the But airfield vicinity.
But on 17th, the enemy, with strong units, landed near But bridge; part of these advanced along the coast road with the intention of making a concerted attack on the west of the airfield.
The But area garrison unit, despite their valiant efforts, were under pressure on the hill at the south side and eventually the But area fell into enemy hands.
In the face of this sudden deterioration in the battle situation, Aotsu area commander made 80th Infantry Regiment contract to the Chusetsuzan (T.N. "Loyalty Mountain") – Kantozan line and at the same time with part of the Sonam area unit he hastily secured Shimbuzan on the upper reaches of the Suimu river and repulsed the enemy advance; he secured liaison with the rear units, and with the main strength of the Sonam area unit defended the Linihok River valley, east of Roan.
The area unit commander was again in direct command of 237th Infantry Regiment and Aoki Battalion of 115th Infantry Regiment. He sent Aoki Battalion on to Shimbuzan with orders to annihilate the enemy who were advancing southwards from the Suimu River valley. Aoki Battalion quickly advanced, without losing an opportunity and forestalled the enemy’s plan to cut off our communication with the rear by routing them.
Major General AOTSU on 20th had a meeting with 20th Division Commander at Asahi Mountain and heard the essential points of the command of the fighting; each unit, from 26th to 28th, was required to form a new defensive line near Saluman, southeast of Shimbuzan. Further, on the 26th, Aoki Battalion attacked and repulsed the enemy, who attacked under a violent artillery barrage; and they thoroughly protected the main strength’s transfer.
On one hand about two Battalions of the enemy who had advanced to the vicinity of the airfield, but had only 8 pieces of artillery, were threatening the position near Pass. They persistently attacked, day after day, under heavy artillery fire; most of our position was demolished, so that what had been dense forest became a clear opening.
Again, a powerful enemy section on the 26th broke through near Yamato Mountain, west of Jukoku Pass and on the 27th reached the neighbourhood of the Jukoku Pass and on the 27th reached the neighbourhood of the Okunaru ford. The units in this region (79th Infantry Regiment, H.Q. and 1 Coy of 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 42nd Independent Field AA Battery, 21st Air Battalion) until 2nd April counter attacked the powerful enemy and his violent artillery barrage; for two weeks a handful of troops held Jukoku Pass and Shishi (T.M. "lion") hill on the south side of it. The garrison of this hill (13 men under the commander of 6th Company, 79th Infantry Regiment) were gradually killed, but morale was still high and there was no lack of brave fighting. The members of the regiment had not lost their fighting strength, and the units under its command and the men inexperienced in infantry fighting, with a small store of equipment and ammunition and so little food that they ate grass, paid no heed to these facts but rallying round their flag defended the position in the performance of their duty. After the war their brave fighting was praised by the Australians. How these units strove so bravely can only be conjectured.
On 2nd April, 20th Division H.Q. at Kuburen were attacked by about 40 men led by natives, but thanks to the brave fighting of both officers and men no harm was done. However, as a result, Division H.Q. were moved to Barihafen, and for defensive and self support reasons the fighting area was reduced; preparations were made for later attacks after the Dagua region units occupied the Mushik vicinity and the But area units occupied a strategic line near Ubun.
(v) 41st Division's Battle near Maprik.
On the 10th February after the Balif defeat the 41st Division Commander disposed the Ami area units, under the command of Maj-Gen IWASHIRO, commander of 4th Field Transport, in the Milak, Ami and Amafu region, the units commanded by 54th L. of C. Garrison commander in the Irop and Marop area, and the 238th Infantry Regiment near Sarada; he placed Divisional H.Q. at Irop. From late February till early March 239th Infantry Regiment made daring and repeated night attacks, infiltrations etc against the enemy in front of Irop and achieved considerable success.
The enemy in front of the Division, at an early stage assembled the native chiefs west of Maprik and gave them vital instructions and used them in fighting and in pacification. They secretly were in communication with aircraft and each used the results, so that our living quarters, our fighting and so on were greatly harmed. In particular, once the natives detected us, they induced the aircraft to strafe and bomb us. In addition, the natives in the rear of our positions rebelled and there were losses caused by those who were used for liaison between units or for gathering resources. To top all of this, at the time heavy rain was falling continuously and the rivers were flooding and the roads were becoming muddy. Communication was becoming impossible. And to add to these troubles, since the Aitape campaign there had been no supplies whatsoever; with the accumulation of U/S material, there were no clothes, no shoes, no blankets, no mosquito nets, no tools, no ammunition, no medicine, and there was, of course, a shortage of food but bravely and tenaciously our troops continued their garrison efforts, with no sleep and no rest. In fact they showed their aggressive morale by daring infiltrations. But the number of sick and wounded increased sharply, so that the responsibilities of the fit troops became heavier and it was impossible not to sympathize with the tiredness of the front line troops.
I was fully in touch with the difficult position of 20th and 41st Divisions, particularly in regard to food; so with the object of reducing the rear encumbrances of the Divisions, such as staff for self support and the sick, native construction work, and the sudden transfer of troops. I formed the Yoshihara system with essential personnel from the Army Staff down, and on 3rd March advanced to Oniyarop and commanded the troops there.
The method of fighting of the enemy in the area south west of the mountains was to order the natives about, to advance the task of governing the natives, to break up and isolate our fighting strength and eventually to make inroads into it.
The natives west of Maprik were comparatively numerous, and because they liked fighting it was convenient to use them for action against the enemy; but in our area the natives were meek and because for a long time they had been in contact with our self-support units there was this difference.
At this time there was, in our area of jurisdiction, a southern mountain native chieftain called Louis. He cooperated really well with our forces. If there were people who were not observing an army order, he used to take them aside and chastise them, so that on the natives’ side there was a fair amount of ill-feeling toward him. I felt that there was a menace in his prompt and decisive action, and issued a firm prohibition that henceforth there must be absolutely no punishments (T.N. "shokei" – could mean ‘executions’ just as easily as ‘punishments’). Now that the enemy were close, there were attempts at escape by natives who did not like their task of carrying supplies, and crimes occurred such as the killing of small garrisons of troops who had been despatched to various points. Really, after April 1944(5), the state of public order on the western front was very disturbed.
(vi) The GOC's plan for Completion of the Ambush Campaign.
Perceiving that the advanced ambush campaign in the southern mountain area was not easy, and taking into account the reflections of the command, it was decided that a deal of thoroughness was needed, and on 18th March the following order was issued.
A glimpse at the general tide of the war in Numbok, Philippines and Iwo Jima, shows the Imperial Army has taken a firm and valiant determination and is preparing for a final decisive struggle based on Japan, Manchuria and China and is awaiting the invasion of the main American strength.
Again, in the south seas, New Britain and Bougainville have been invaded by the Australians; the enemy plan became clear from the end of the year – to surround our army and take Wewak. So although they are far apart in the north and south, the tide of war of the Americans and the Australians has entered a final, vital phase. It is our place to carry out a decisive ambush campaign, based on a pre-arranged plan. In regard to the path to the execution of a decisive campaign, all the officers have had many years of practice and can be trusted in every way; and so that there may be no regrets in the accomplishment of the operational objective, we must express our belief in this task in regard to the principal items.
We must abandon the idea of establishing a basis for living off the land and quickly change to planning for ambush decisive warfare. Each officer must make sure of each of his units’ readiness, especially of their morale, and is also expected to prepare their arrangements and training, in order to prepare quickly for a state of decisive ambush.
The army’s special task will be quickly to implement command in this vital and decisive struggle and to make it thorough. For this purpose they have the following objectives:- "A strong soldier = 3 enemy", "A sick soldier = 1 enemy", "Even if you are a badly wounded soldier, fight in your place". These are their minimum objectives and the two final points are: "Stab people who are unable to move" and "Do not incur the shame of being taken prisoner."
All officers are expected to let their morale be flourishing and do their utmost to accomplish the objective of decisive ambush warfare.
GOC 18th Army Lt Gen ADACHI.
To sum up the general situation in the Army’s perimeter on 1st April:- Since it was felt that the enemy’s attacks in the Wewak and Boikin area were gradually becoming closer, the army, with the intention of holding the link between the area close to Wewak and the area near the Tsuru mountain, quickly strengthened the ambush situation in the Mambok region; it put control of the ambush into the hands of Colonel NAGABAYASHI, head of army ordnance section, Colonel HAYASHI, head of supervision, Col UCHIDA head of Army Signals, and Col SAKAI, commander of 27th Field Freight Depot. First of all it was necessary to make arrangements concerning the enemy in the north and then to prepare to receive 51st Division when necessary and to maintain liaison with the Shoge Detachment area, east of the Bun Bun River.
7. Miyake Unit's attack on Milak.
After this the advance army, attacking the enemy who was striking from the west with Maprik as his general objective, tried to overturn the enemy’s plan to make a violent advance. It planned to hold for as long as possible the strategic area of Maprik. Furthermore, it used 41st Division to hold the Aorik-Renga-Iribita line and restrain the enemy in front of them. In the meantime Miyake unit, in the Jame base position area, was to prepare to launch an attack; then, going beyond the friendly forces’ front line positions on the left bank of the Amagu River, it would use its main strength to capture Milak, then capture Ambamkuna. Here it would make its preparations for defence against the west; since it would have spare time for subsequent operations it would be able to protect the organization of western defence. Such was the plan.
At that time Miyake Unit (led by Maj-Gen MIYAKE, commander of 20th Infantry Group, and composed of main strength 78th Infantry Regiment, Yanagigawa Raiding Unit from 51st Division, the Navy Kakuichi Unit, 2nd Coy. 20th Field Searchlight Battalion, and KITAMOTO Engineer Unit) had a strength of about1,000. It was the greatest strength of the forces used in the southern mountain region and as probably the army’s strongest attacking force. The GOC personally went as far as Marumba and directly outlined the plan to Major General MIYAKE, encouraging him at the same time.
In mid-March the unit launched a concerted attack on Milak, But Milak was on the crest of a precipitous mountain and, to make things more difficult, was surrounded by barbed wire, so the attack did not succeed. In addition, part of a powerful enemy force advanced to the Ambamkuma area, north east of Milak; this was felt to be a threat to the left side rear and Yanagigawa Raiding Unit was sent to the area. It was imperative that the latter should ambush them. Eventually, on 19th March, it became necessary to abandon the attack on Milak. The left flank was entrusted to Abonge, in close contact with 41st Division and the main strength towered high near the enemy in the Milak and Ambamkuma area.
However, although the unit was not all together, a quick agreement was reached concerning manoeuvres, and as a result of the attack on Ambamkuma, Milak and Makabate the objective of endurance was achieved; and the subsequent defence of positions and the execution of raids brought considerable battle results. Thus the Jame area base was held until the end of May, as the army had instructed.
8. 41st Division's Battle in the Iribita, Reinga and Amafu Region.
The enemy in front of 41st Division, from mid March till late March made a violent attack on Iribita and Reinga. Despite the gallant fighting of 41st Army Service Corps Regiment, which was garrisoning this area, first of all Iribita fell and on the 22nd Reinga was penetrated by the enemy; this latter Regiment and 1st Battalion, 239th Infantry Regiment attempted an attack to recover the position, but were forced to abandon it.
From late March the violence of the enemy’s Aobik attack increased and Divisional H.Q. were transferred from Kuerikam to Mierikamu on 1st April. In accordance with army orders, the operational area of 41st Division and Miyake Unit were partly changed and they were entrusted with the defence of the Ora-Jikinangu area and although they had no surplus disposition of strength, on 7th April part of the enemy came from the Tatemba region, passed through the Nidoko area and penetrated No.2 Ora from the south, so that the Division had to receive the enemy in the rear. At the time the Division had no contact with the infantry transport regiments and were completely without news; all the Division commander had was a mere company.
However, the Division commander, still concerned about the Mierikamu region, decided to attack the enemy at Ora. On 8th April he shortened the Aopik front line to Kuerikam and with the company I have mentioned held No.1 Ora and prepared to attack the enemy at No.2 Ora, striving to grasp his forces. However, the enemy at No.2 Ora were very strong and their attempts at attack made no progress. Hereupon the Divisional commander transferred to the Mosappo area and decided to defend this region.
9. Army Rear Supply on the Western Front.
In order to supply the front line struggle, the army moved its material in the Wewak region to the area south of Eii (T.N. – literally = "zeal") Mountain and attempted to strengthen battle resources. Particularly as it was reported that there was a shortage of rifle bullets, the use of these for shooting food was strictly prohibited; at the same time, the amount held by each unit was controlled and a final issue of 25 bullets for each rifle was made for a decisive action. The distribution to all the various places even extended to tools such as found and flat shovels and all materials had to be controlled in their use.
The item which the army reported as being scarcest of all was hand grenades. Not only were hand grenades essential for infiltrating attacks, but now there were very few of them in store and it became necessary to take shells, particularly aircraft bombs, and make substitute hand grenades of them.
Every effort was made to obtain food supplies. Copra and Biyashi oil production squads were sent to Mushu Island, where they produced copra and Biyashi oil and sent it to the continent. Similarly, salt production squads were set up at Wewak in order to produce table salt. Boiling was necessary for producing table salt. But boiling in the day time gave off smoke which resulted in strafing by enemy aircraft, so the fires had to be lit at night. However, even so, the smoke from the fires had a colour different from mist and there was no way of surely avoiding enemy strafing, and it was a dangerous operation. The table salt produced had a small quantity of black sand in it but was warmly welcomed by the units in the depths of New Guinea. The salt was taken by motor boat to the distant Sepik River mouth, from there went upstream against the Sepik for several score miles to the vicinity of Kalalau. There it was put on the backs of natives and taken by land for several score miles to the units in the southern mountain region. This shows its precious nature. At this point, there is something I must mention. In the southern mountain region, in the various river valleys salt water used to gush out. The salt content of this water was only about 1/3 or ｼ that of sea water and for this reason it was a life-giving spring for 41st Division and Miyake Unit.
The self-supporting situation gradually showed results, and came to maturity in each area. It was possible to gather sweet potatoes, maize and various kinds of potatoes, and the cultivation of water rice, used for feeding horses, instead of land rice, was successful. So the outlook was bright for the army’s self-support action.
In contrast to the prosperous self-support movement, the enemy situation was reaching an emergency.
10. Miyake Unit's Withdrawal to Jame and the Loss of Waigakamu.
After the failure of the Milak attack, Miyake Unit did their utmost to ward off the enemy attack in front of the base position. On 15th April occupied the strategic point, Ora, south of Maprik and then began a direct attack on Maprik from north and south. In particular, their native engineering became active, and one after another rebellions occurred amongst the natives inside our position. Thereupon our units near Maprik withdrew and on 22nd April their main strength rallied in the base position and, in consideration of the new circumstances, deployed for a transient defensive operation. On 11th and 13th May, the strategic point, Waigakamu, on 41st Division’s left flank, fell after an enemy attack. The commander of Miyake Unit sensed the danger to Ulupu and Oniarum, so he secured the vital spot, Jame, sent part of the troops there to the Malumba area, which was devoid of troops, and maintained close liaison with 41st Division.
The premature loss of Waigakamu made things easy for the natives in the rear of the enemy’s position, with the result that on 19th May Kalabu and on 27th May Loanim had to be abandoned.
At that time the total strength of Miyake Unit was about 800 men only; the front it was defending was 9 kilometres, with a depth of 8 kilometres. In addition, there was no surplus strength in the rear strategic points. The average garrison of each front line position was about 15 men, and day after day they were attacked by about 300 guns and 30 aircraft (80 bombs). They were an easy prey in their positions, as though in an oyster pot, but they made infiltrating raids and set up ambushes, striking ‘error into the enemy’s heart.
The Unexpected Loss of Waigakamu.
239th Infantry Regiment left Jikinangu on 26th April and arrived at Naramuko; whether or not it was the result of orders, from early May the native situation deteriorated greatly and on 11th May part of the enemy made an assault on Waigakamu and captured it. On 13th they took Waigakamu No.2 and, thereby caused an unexpected commotion.
For Waigakamu was the liaison point for Miyake Unit and 41st Division, and as a result of it topography made an attack on distant Oniyarop, Gwalip and Bitolko easy; it was also a vital spot for pressing on to the Malumba and Ulupu region, directly in the rear of Miyake Unit. Its loss therefore was very significant in regard to the army'’ ambush warfare. The Division Commander recognized the importance of the matter and decided to contract his disposition in the Mossapo area to the smallest limits and to strengthen the Tolko region. He used 239th Infantry Regiment to strengthen the Waigakamu new village Kwimbo line and had it held until the end of June. He made 238th Infantry Regiment responsible for ambush warfare in the Mikau-Tokaikamu-Abuji area; he sent 41st Army Service Corps Regiment to Tolko and made it responsible for the defence of the Geshangbu-Tsuwabikomu-Tolko area. The division Commander left Mossapo on 17th and arrived at Tolko on 19th.
Since his transfer to the southern mountain region, the 41st Division Commander had been engaged in close fighting with the enemy. If he had been stationary in an area, there had been no spare time to break new soil in an effort to become self-supporting. He had lived day by day from hand to mouth, using native gardens and gathering vegetables in the jungle of the natives. The natives who had come into contact with the enemy had been stirred up, and even those who were usually of a gentle disposition had become hostile, food had become impossible to obtain, and he expected to be attacked in the back by the enemy. He had lost more than a few of his men on the points of spears. For this reason, there was great restraint over his operational movements. The loss of Waigakamu during this time was another reason.
The Division’s position was the Winge-Chaigol-Wintope area, and it was important that it should be held at least till the end of August. To help the Division, the Yoshihara Unit which was the garrison of the area made zealous efforts to build the position. Installation of the position was carried out by native engineering, the digging being done with sticks. Cover was almost impossible to obtain and the disposition of these installations was unspeakable. The troops directing the natives had no knowledge of construction. So, although 41st Division Commander inherited the garrison, the task of altering it was enormous. His labour force was very small, being only about 5 men and an officer drawn from 238th Infantry Regiment, who set to work under the command of the Division Staff.
11. Change of Operation Control Strongpoint to the Wewak Area.
At the beginning of May the movement of the Hansa area enemy against the lower reaches area of the Sepik River had calmed down but it was considered inevitable that the enemy main strength capture Wewak. It was decided to successively strengthen the Wewak area’s fighting strength and to transfer the operational control strongpoint to the Wewak area. The strong policy was formed of carrying out operations with an all-over, general sense of morale for the whole army. 51st Division was to attack the enemy who were advancing by road on the Wewak area from the Boikin area and try to capture strategic points for control of the fighting in the area west of Wewak and directly in the Wewak Area; and as well as conducting ambush warfare, it was ordered that, no matter what might happen, it must maintain close strategic liaison with the main strength of the Army.
This was because, if the enemy, officially estimated to be numerous, advanced to Sassoia and caused a break in communications between 51st Division and the Army main strength, the result would be that the operational strength would be wiped out in scattered groups, thus making the army’s end very easy for the enemy.
In order to make this thoroughly clear, the G.O.C. specially visited Passam on 22nd and 23rd May to encourage 51st Division commander, and again on 7th June he visited Kuragmon, had a conference with the commanding officers of 20th and 41st Divisions and exhorted them to express their feelings without fear.
12. 20th Division's Situation on the Western Front from June onwards.
In mid June the enemy on the western front had a strength of 2,500 men (with 50 Cannon), mostly attacking the 20th Division area. Their main strength attacked the key point of the Yamil area along the America road; on 19th June, despite desperate fighting by the Yamil garrison, it was captured by the enemy. As a result of the loss of the master high point on the right flank area, our operations were extremely difficult.
After this the enemy continued his violent attack into the Ilipem and Kaboibus area; after the capture of Yamil part of the enemy made a violent attack into the South America road area and the Malumba, Ulupu, Oniyarop area became the focus of an intense struggle; so that great attention was paid to the Gwalip-Bukiwara area, the contact point for both groups. However, the enemy in the North America road area were aiming at a general attack on Kaboibus and late in July continued a violent attack, in contact with our whole line and with cooperation between infantry, artillery and air, aiming at breaking through our area. Our garrison troops fought on courageously, without even thinking of their paucity of numbers. Particularly was the vicinity of Malumba and Ulupu closely connected with the 41st Division’s Naramuko-Tsuwabikomu; the area was extensive and the garrison strength was deficient, and the northern area No.2 Kalabu area fell into enemy hands and the area was powerfully attacked from the front and from the right flank; eventually Malumba was occupied by the enemy on 30th June and Ulupu on 9th September. The enemy had cannon and mountain guns and first of all loosed a barrage against our garrison position, while it was pulverised by aerial bombardment. Then when the garrison troops were decimated they opened their attack. This was the way in which they captured position after position. The general rate of progress of this sort of advance was slow, but because of the steam-roller like attack 78th Infantry Regiment work unit, Ishizuka Unit of 48th Airfield Battalion, and No.1 Company of 20th Army Service Corps Regiment perished with their positions in the classical tradition.
The commander of 20th Division made a comparison of the front line situation and the enemy situation north of the mountains and quickly sent the main strength to the area south of the mountain, concentrating on the three strong points, Kaboibus, Ebanobu and Numbip. They built positions on several lines and planned to resist unbendingly until the end of August.
In the Kaboibus area, Ilipem eventually fell on 25th July and at the same time there was an attack by the main strength, advancing from Chologon and Arakanedo. On 1st August part of the enemy penetrated Kaboibus and their forces and ours loomed over each other in close proximity. The Kaboibus garrison consisted of 20th Engineer Regiment and part of 5th Shipping Engineer Regiment.
In the fighting in this area, a mortar was used which was sent from the Sepik River area late in July. It was probably the first and last time our guns took part in the southern mountain area fighting, and it only fired five volleys, but the effect of having fire power to attack the enemy was immense. You can imagine the effect on troops who were worn out or on people who had no experience of fighting in this area. The Division’s Saito Volunteer Unit (Raiding Party) from late in July made infiltrating raids into the enemy near Gurumanep, Ilipem, Arakanedo; they shot up the enemy tents and achieved great results, striking terror into the heart of the enemy.
Fighting in the Ebanom and Numbip Area.
In the Ebanom Area, from about 20th July, there was a violent artillery barrage, for several days, from the enemy and on 28th July the enemy opened an attack on the Ahegulim position. A desperate fight raged at close range for the position, and there were various stages such as ambushes and infiltrations. In the face of a very powerful enemy, our strength was gradually whittled down by casualties, and the positions crumbled. The 1st August saw the first wedge driven in by the enemy, but the desperate fighting was not yet done, and on 10th August Ebanom Hill fell into enemy hands. The 78th Infantry Regiment, the garrison of the Numbip area, made the Numbip village hill their right flank pivot and kept strict guard against the enemy who was making a roundabout infiltration from the Bukinara area but from mid July part of the enemy attacked from the South America road northern side. They strongly resisted but the enemy did not spy out the position and there welcomed the end of the war.
Concerning the Infiltration Attack.
To make a positive attack on an enemy equipped with strong fire power, a few soldiers with a shortage of fire power must use opportunity and the terrain and make infiltrations. Since the Buna campaign the army had daringly done that, and now it was quite a familiar routine. In particular, the Saito Volunteer Unit of 20th Division gave a lively example and achieved fine results. Beneath, I have recorded a mention in despatches, made concerning 2nd Lt SATO of this unit, by the G.O.C. I have included it because it was an outstanding act of valour amid valorous acts.
78th Infantry Regiment 2nd Lt SATO Hachiro.
The above-named was under the command of SAKAI Kyo, commander of 4th Coy, 78th Infantry Regiment and SAITO Shunji, commander of the Volunteer Unit. From September 1943 to July 1945 he was a platoon commander and performed really meritorious service.
In June 1943 he was attached to Nakai Detachment and participated in the Kaiapit engagement; in September of the same year, in the battle near Kelumba and Surima, when the enemy were attacking, he threatened their right flank and broke up the attack. In November the same year, in the attack on Kesewaihe became commander of the forward raiding party and made a daring attack on the vicinity of No.3 Kesewa; he cut off the enemy’s retreat and made good the operation of the Detachment’s main strength. Then, in January 1944, the enemy landed near Cape Gunbi and he served in the assembly operation of Nakai Detachment; he forestalled the enemy, in mid-February he occupied Kabumi and facilitated the fording of the Motto River by the main strength of the Battalion. Next, he attacked openly and by ambush the enemy who was advancing in the Sindama and Yoga Yoga area, stopping his advance and making good the Detachment’s assembly operation. Again, in the Maragun area he ambushed the attacking enemy and achieved splendid results and completed the duty of assembling the units who were retreating in the area.
In May of the same year the Aitape Operation began; he broke through the enemy position, and going forward made a reconnaissance of the Negiru River track. He also advanced to the rear of the enemy at objective Hill 50 and checked the threat from the enemy, facilitating the battalion’s break-through movement. In the Hanto River crossing battle, with a handful of troops he held back the enemy in front and allowed the main strength to cross. Again, in the attack near Afua he took the lead in penetrating the enemy positions and struck terror into the heart of the enemy; the 2nd Lieutenant’s conspicuous and appropriate command in battle indeed put strength into the main strength of the Battalion.
In August 1944 he came under the control of the commander of Saito Volunteer Unit, and in May the following year carried out the infiltration attack on Dagua Airfield and, after destroying both the advance enemy and an aircraft which was taking off, in the Jukoku (T.N. 鴇Ten Countries半) Pass attack he was attacking platoon commander and penetrated the enemy’s tents and annihilated the enemy. Again, in June of the same year his unit transferred to the southern mountain region and carried out an infiltration attack into No.9 Ilipem. He was attack platoon commander and leading his subordinates he attacked the enemy from close quarters, killing 20 of them. Then in the attack on Arakanetto four times he led his platoon into attack; they violently fell upon the enemy, who were in turmoil and consternation, and killed more than twenty of them, but he died valiantly as a result of a hand grenade being thrown by an enemy survivor. Thus for three years he took part in the fighting as a platoon commander, and during that period, as a patrol commander, he advanced into enemy territory more than 62 times on raids, and as squad leader or platoon commander he pressed hard the enemy on more than ten occasions. In these actions he showed valour, self-composure and thoroughness, accepted heavy responsibility and consistently showed his regard for his duties as a Second Lieutenant. Mention must be made for his true warrior spirit in command in battle and his remarkable do or die morale.
20th August 1945
G.O.C. 18th Army.
ADACHI Lt Gen
13. State of 41st Division on the Western Front after June.
In mid-June Yamil fell and the position in the North America Road area was reported to be critical. The Division Commander used 41st Army Service Corps Regiment to garrison the Oniyarop, Agechoko region and 1st Battalion, 239th Infantry Regiment to garrison the Geshanobu area. However, before the movement of the various units was completed, from the beginning of July the enemy position south of Waigakamu became active and it became necessary to temporarily extend the defence of the Gwalip area.
On 1st July a powerful enemy force attacked Kuimbo and, despite the daring fighting of the garrison, captured it. Furthermore, the enemy in the Mikau area followed up the transfer of 238th Infantry Regiment and attacked Naru on 2nd July, routing the Motor Vehicle Depot Unit.
The Battle near Geshanobu, Tsuwabikomu and Zubutsu.
On 11th July an enemy force of about 200 attacked the 239th Infantry Regiment’s Geshanobu position from the Tsuwabikomu area. For a day and a night there was violent fighting with heavy casualties; the enemy also attacked on the Tsuwabikomu and Zubutsu front and, although this was fortunately repulsed, the situation continued to deteriorate.
Along with the retreat of the front line units, the natives in the Chaikichi, Yonchange and Gurumaburu area, which had become the seat of battle, from the 7th of July rose in revolt together, causing many casualties.
The Army Service Corps Regiment, after the Numbif transfer of 78th Infantry Regiment, received attacks from the enemy at Oni River (river west of Oniyarup) but repulsed them land strongly defended this front. However, the enemy attack became increasingly strong from the grassy plain south of 20th Division, so that 238th Regiment was transferred to Gwalip and the defence of Chaikichi was entrusted to 239th Infantry Regiment.
On the Toruko front, from 20th July there were three or four powerful attacks by the enemy, under cover of rifle fire. These were repulsed and the position was held until 25th.
At 2 o’clock on the afternoon of 19th July there was an unexpected attack on the Winge Division Headquarters by about 100 of the enemy, including black soldiers. As a result of the strong fighting of the Headquarters personnel, this attack was repulsed until nightfall. However, this attack showed that the enemy had started to cause confusion in the rear and it was felt that in future strict guard would have to be maintained.
14. General Condition of each Army Division on the Western Front.
(i) General Nature of the Army.
While we had two Divisions and most of the units under their direct control to throw against the enemy’s mere one Regiment, it may be thought that if we met the enemy’s attack and fought him we would be able to annihilate him. However, at that time our army consisted, as at early May, of 2,100 men in 20th Division and 1,300 men in 41st Division; not only were they very weary after three years of strenuous fighting, but also the battle front was extremely wide (the two division’s front was 20 miles long) and the strength per kilometre was only 40 men; if sick and people engaged in activities such as growing food were excluded, the fighting strength was less than 1,000. Of the infantry who made up this fighting strength, the majority were lacking in training and were special branch personnel or rear units and were no use for attacking purposes. In addition, suitable commanders were not available, and although they were called regiments they were about 100 men, a company in ordinary times. A battalion might only have one platoon. A company would have to be a matter for supposition.
There was no food transported; food for the day’s miserable needs had to be gathered from round about. The difficulty of this was that it lowered the fighting strength. As a result of malnutrition, there were malaria, beri-beri and serious skin diseases which were a special feature of New Guinea.
There was also a surprising shortage of fire-arms. Although all personnel were supposed to have become fighting personnel, each group was short of several hundred rifles. Because of the lack of oil for those who did have weapons, the rain and humidity caused damage to the guns. Bullets also were short, and about the most was 14 or 15 bullets per rifle. Hand grenades were almost non-existent and the only solution was to use substitutes or captured ones.
(ii) Use of Our Strength.
The real situation of our units was as I have mentioned above, so that the scope for using them was very limited. Over such a wide front the enemy were breaking through everywhere, and as our troops in each place were so few they were able to occupy these places; but if our troops were concentrated all in one area, it would not be possible to feed them off the land. The fact that they were able to hold out for more than 100 days was due to the enemy’s attacking methods and the accumulated effect of each unit’s desperate fighting.
The Australian 6th Division had no need to worry about time, and advanced calmly in order to avoid casualties but 13th September was arranged for the landing in Malaya and it became necessary to use a method whereby, worried by the Japanese infiltrations, they attacked by day and defended at night, thus accelerating their attack. This I actually heard from the Australian Staff after the end of the war.
15. Further Appraisal of the Army's Formula of Dying Honourably, Fighting.
The Army had decided that if the worst happened the whole army would die honourably, showing the true countenance of an Imperial Army. There was unreserved understanding with the Division Commanders and all command policy was progressing.
It was rumoured that the advance force had abundant resources and, as it was decided that the area on the south bank of the Sepik River held the key of the situation, the Army Chief of Staff was sent off to investigate the Sepik, with a group under him. The result of about a month of investigation became known on 15th July. According to this, there were not as many food resources in the Sepik River as had been stated and they would not suffice for 6,000 men until the end of September. But this investigation did not go into the hinterland, so that it was possible that considerable resources might be found subsequently; the terrain was suitable for a slight resistance. Furthermore, already a considerable number of self-support units were deployed in the Sepik catchment area, and it was not possible for them to die with the main strength.
From consideration of the above circumstances, it was clear that the Army could not carry out its ambush operation in two steps, and also that it was impossible to adopt a policy of dying honourably in one step. If the Army stood strongly to the one-step, dying-honourably principle, the army main strength would try a last desperate battle in the Numbok perimeter and the units along the Sepik River bank, after the game death of the Army main strength would once again make the Sepik River area the base and carry out an ambush campaign. This would both increase the enemy’s bloodshed and subjugate the enemy in the area. That was the decision. Even if the army died honourably in the Numbok area it would carry out constructively the duties for which it was responsible. The Sepik River units were to be formed into a group under Chief of Staff Lt Gen YOSHIHARA and could be expected to die separately.
On 25th July the battle order No.1 Mo Number A371 was promulgated as shown below. On 8th July the forward army was given the recommendation as shown in appendix two from Southern Area Army G.O.C.
Mo Group Order (25th July 0,800 Numbok).
(i) The whole battle situation centering round the Imperial Army has really deepened and there is absolutely no means of adjusting matters by a temporary expedient. The Imperial Army is gambling for its fate and carrying out a decisive battle here for our country’s homes; as well as trying to thwart the enemy’s plans, it is anticipated that it will preserve the lives and honour of our people. In this grave situation of our country, the path to the execution of the army’s duty is based on the warrior’s morale, forged over years of training. Acting in accordance with our country’s principles, the army will maintain the duty of dying honourably.
It is certain that the enemy in the army’s area plans to capture our area with his main strength. The operational value of the Sepik River is slight from the aspect of concrete supply and benefit of terrain for the execution of operations and therefore not essential for the decisive action of the army’s main strength. It is difficult to discard the army’s present position as the decisive battle site for the execution of the army’s operation.
(ii) The Army has made firm its battle spirit and with its main strength in this area, over a long period has fought bravely. With Army Headquarters as its nerve centre it has died gamely in the area around Numbok and accomplished the majority of its duties and in our country’s hour of need will carry out its special functions. All the units in the Sepik River catchment area will be grouped together under the command of Chief of Staff Lt Gen YOSHIHARA and will carry out the plan for the Army main strength as outlined separately. It is expected that they will fight gamely independently and that they will perform part of the army’s duties by carrying out the second-stage, ambush decisive warfare.
(iii) The Commander of 20th Division will henceforth take Tsuru Mountain as his right flank and adopt, as the division’s last line a line passing through the Mombuk, Hoi and Fubaru, Yangol areas to the Numboruon, Winchon and Horok areas, and will carry out ambush attacks against the enemy in that region.
It is planned to increase decisively the enemy’s casualties, in the area between this last line and the present army area border of KABOIBIS, Ebanobu and Numbif, by improving tactics.
(iv) 41st Division Commander will henceforth take as the Division’s final area the region of Hoin, Sare, Shinri, Hoi, Sengiri, Sumbomiya, Melkombi (No.2 Baimuru) and with the army main strength will carry out a left flank ambush attack against the enemy facing him. By close links with Hoin, Sare and Shinri in the front line of this final area he will maintain liaison with the Sepik River catchment area on the Wintope-Makap line. At the same time, improvement in tactics will increase enemy casualties.
(v) Commanders of both groups will henceforth maintain close liaison, and in accordance with changes in the ambush warfare and the ambush warfare line will cooperate with each other’s operations. The pivot in the cooperation in operations will be 41st Division and at the very minimum 41st Division must hold the Gwalip, Bukiwara, Winge and Chaigol area until the end of August.
(vi) The commander of 51st Division must carry out his present duties.
(vii) Each Division Commander, in accordance with appendix must continue this ambush warfare till at least the end of September.
Furthermore, it is expected that the commander of each division and the commander of each unit, as well as each of his subordinate units, will until the last fight bravely and maintain unflagging morale, thus showing the true characteristics of the Imperial Army.
Commander of Mo Force
Lt Gen ADACHI.
Mo Battle Order No. 8371 Appendix
Plan for Decisive Battle of Army Main Strength.
The Army in its area will fight bravely over a long period and each part of its strength will make Army Headquarters its nerve centre and fight bravely in the Numbok area. Thus the army will achieve most of its responsibilities and show the true characteristics of the Army in the country’s difficulties.
Summary of Direction.
(i) Each group commander will make some contraction to a last line, in order that he can fight decisively for a long period, and improvements will be made in tactics. For this purpose, 51st Division’s last line will be as at present, 20th Division’s last line will have Tsuru Mountain as its right flank and will be Hoi-Fubaru (excluding the Yangol area) – Numboruon-Winchon-Horok and 41st Division’s last line will be Hoin-SANREBOI, Sengiri-Shinri-Sumbomiya and Melkombi (No.2 Baimuru).
(ii) The fighting in the last line area and the area in front of the last line area will continue as long as ammunition and food are available, and at least till the end of September.
(iii) Because of the desperate position in the last line fighting, the army main strength will form one group in the Army Headquarter’s perimeter at Numbok and will carry out the last, final, action.
(iv) Food and materials will be obtained from the Sepik area, the transfer of part of the force will be covered, and the fighting in our area made good; at the same time, in order to cover the setting up on the Sepik group’s northern front ambush warfare line, close liaison will be maintained on both the east and west flanks of the last line of the Army’s main strength, and liaison must be closely maintained with the Sepik area.
(v) Unrelenting fighting and final stage constancy will be maintained, the Army’s true characteristics will be made manifest, and both officers and men will harden their resolution so that duties are accomplished.
Prior to the promulgation of Army Battle Order No.371, the following message of approval was received from TERAUCHI, Southern Area General Army Headquarters Commander.
The above mentioned, under the command of Lt Gen ADACHI, have fought valiantly for three years in all the north eastern areas of disease-ridden, primitive New Guinea; although the enemy landed in the west in April 1944 and supplies were completely cut off, they used every resource available; their morale did not falter, they overcame very unfavourable situations, with all officers and men acting as one group and assailed the enemy with the true spirit of an imperial army. They caused great damage to the enemy and struck fear into his heart. They checked the enemy’s air and sea strength and contributed in no small measure to the operations of Japan’s forces in the southern area. This conscientious and noble characteristic has enabled the conduct of operations according to plans and has carried out a decisive operation according to principles of conscientiousness and long standing training and is a model for the whole army.
Therefore this letter of approval is awarded and the whole army notified.
8th July 1945 GOC Southern Area CHQ Count TERAUCHI
At 1200 hours on 4th April a landing was made by the enemy, under destroyer protection, at Cape Paus, west of Wewak. It was reported that the enemy strength was not known but that it was certain that he had 3 tanks and 3 cannon. The Division immediately ordered a strict defence to keep the enemy to the area west of Navy Bridge – No.1 Garden-Memorial Bridge line and transferred the patients of 117th L. of C. Hospital to Urintagun.
On the next day, the 5th, the enemy advanced to the Wom Peninsula, expelled the garrison there (about 20 members of 115th Regiment) and immediately opened artillery fire on Wewak Peninsula, while part of his infantry began an attack. It was clear that the enemy planned to seize Wewak Peninsula and the airfield, so the Division, in order to form an important position in the western area, sent the reserve unit’s 66th Infantry Regiment’s, main strength to Bomboko and brought a mountain gun from the eastern area to Kampu (T.N. 鴇detect半) Mountain; 51st Artillery Regiment was transferred to Konhakuera and the Ordnance Duty Unit to Kandai; 4th Field Hospital was brought under the orders of the Eastern Area Unit Commander.
At 6 o’clock on 8th May it was reported that 3 destroyers and 10 landing barges were advancing eastwards off But, and a strict defence was ordered in the Terebu area. In addition, the change in the Kinzan position and the Shiburangu and Ambrauri positions were strengthened to prepare for this. Early on the morning of the 9th there was a violent barrage against Sauri Hill, showing the need for a swift strengthening of Shiburangu (Shiburangu is the divide of the Alexander Range and is a strategic point for the domination of Wewak to the north, the airfield in the centre and in the south, the area south of the mountains). 66th Infantry Regiment were therefore sent forward but, since Sauri Hill was a vital strategic point in advance of Shiburangu, part of 3rd Battalion, Independent Vehicles was intended to ensure this area with speed. The Western Area Unit used part of 25th Airfield Battalion and No.1 Independent Field Searchlight Company to strike into the South Seas Bridge (T.N. 鴇Nankai kyo半) and Migaru area but they were unsuccessful in trying to halt the enemy’s advance and about the 7th the enemy penetrated the Migaru and Memorial (T.N. 鴇kinen半) Bridge area.
(i) Bloody Fighting in the Wewak Peninsula.
From 10th May the enemy deployed 30 cannon at Wom and concentrated an intense barrage. At dawn infantry with tanks and flame throwers attacked and advanced as far as Wewak Peninsula.
About 70 men of the 25th Field Machine Gun Company under Major TACHIBANA, commander of the Wewak Garrison, and of 4th Coy, 4th Battalion Sea Transport under Captain ARITA fought a desperate struggle. Deaths and casualties continued, but no unit abandoned its area of responsibility; they all fought so gamely that they struck terror into the hearts of the enemy. Their exploit raised the morale of all the garrison of the Wewak area.
In view of the possibility of losing the Wewak Peninsula, it was necessary for the Division to take to the dense Alexander jungle as an ambush warfare area; 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment of the Western Area Unit was to secure Sarubou, and to prevent an advance to the Pampania area; the air units commanded by the commander of 12th Air Area were to occupy the strategic points of the south side of Yotendai and Sauri and in particular were to ensure completely Shiburangu.
(ii) Enemy Landing near Forok.
Early on 11th May, after a naval and air bombardment on the Eastern Area Unit’s front, at 7 o’clock 2 destroyers and 20 landing barges began a landing at the mouth of the Batek River. The garrison in this area attacked with machine guns and achieved considerable results but from lack of ammunition eventually were unable to prevent the enemy landing.
However, by 14th May the enemy had not begun his advance, and had chiefly made artillery bombardments against our positions. For this reason, on 15th May, our mountain guns on Kampa Mountain were shelled.
Fighting near Yotendai, Kato Mountain, Ishiwada Mountain and No.1 Sauri.
The enemy who were advancing on the airfield area, a force of about 800, on 12th with tanks and artillery advanced to the Wewak Peninsula and the airfield and attacked the front line of our eastern area unit; despite both air and land units, the Yotendai garrison (2nd Coy. 25th Airfield Battalion, under the command of Captain KATO Teru), the Kato Mountain and Ishiwada Mountain garrison (lst company, 25th Airfield Battalion) and No.1 Sauri Garrison (14th Air Repair Depot) fought well and several times repulsed the enemy. However, with the death in action of Capt ISHIWADA the Kato Mountain and Ishiwada Mountain first broke, and then No.1 Sauri fell into enemy hands.
At Yotendai, the company commander Capt KATO had his AA guns demolished by the enemy artillery bombardment but worked all night repairing them, together with Lt KODO, commander of 38th Independent Field Artillery Company and got them going again. He was able to deliver a powerful counter-bombardment against the enemy on the Wewak Peninsula, encouraging the spirit of our troops, and at 1200 hrs on 14th the 2000 enemy troops which attacked, under the protection of 4 tanks, were met with a brave counter attack by 16 men under the command of Lt YAMATE, even though their position was demolished. They fought strongly, but their guns were destroyed and their ammunition ran short so the company commander brought them together at the western mountain position. On the following day, the 15th, they fought bravely with home-made hand grenades against the enemy who came into attack with flame throwers under cover of a violent artillery bombardment. Casualties on both sides were heavy; jumping out of ditches our soldiers illed the enemy, firing from the hip; when they ran out of hand grenades they threw stones; when their weapons were destroyed they fought as human bullets. The nineteen men under the company commander fought and died bravely but were eventually routed by the successive attacks of the enemy.
(iv) Fighting near Izumi Mountain, Position 247, Hill 516 and Mihara Bridge.
The enemy near the airfield headed for the Yotendai area and made an eastward advance with about 600 troops. On 16th May they attacked Izumi Mountain and Position 247 and the garrison in the area, about 18 men under Lt TSUJIMOTO of 51st Airfield Battalion, made a brave attack with machine-guns and were undaunted by the odds against them. The enemy continuously attacked Hill 516 and the garrison there, 8th Company Independent Field Searchlight (about 30 men) also died honourably and both positions were captured.
On 17th May an enemy tank was seen heading for the eastern airfield along the coast road and 10 men under 2nd Lt MIHARA of 51st Airfield Battalion, who were in concealment, clasping 15 kg bombs put the tank out of action and all perished honourably.
(v) Battle of Hill No.2 Makon.
The enemy on the central area units’ front, under cover of artillery from Cape Boram and the eastern airfield, began an attack on 19th May. The No.8 Hill on the south side of the race-course was garrisoned by 41 men under Lt KODO at Yotendai. On 20th the enemy sea bombardment also began and land units attacked. The men under Lt KODO fought bravely but 30 of them were killed in battle and on 19th No.2 Makon and on 20th Hill No.8 were captured.
(vi) Battle at and Near Mount Kampa.
The enemy who penetrated near Hill 51 gradually came south and repulsed our few troops, pressing on to Mount Kampa. Mount Kampa was a central area strategic point, rivalling Yotendai in importance, an advance strongpoint of the south east mountain – Taraki mountain line, so was a hill vital for an attacking operation.
Mount Kampa was firmly garrisoned by about 30 men under Lt MURAOKA of 39th Independent Automobile Battalion but the area was wide open to the sky and was usually attacked by enemy artillery bombardment. However, successive positions had been built from the Kinzan (T.N. 鴇Gold Mountain半) position and each of these detachments was used to halt the enemy.
These dispositions, because of their very good arrangements, were able to hold back the enemy for about a week after the 17th May but eventually died gamely. The enemy took advantage of this opportunity and on 25th May about 150 men, under cover of artillery, part of their ground forces, climbed the steep slope, attacked our rear and captured Mount Kampa.
After occupation of Mount Kampa the enemy attacked No.1 Maman but the units there repulsed them every time. However, on the morning of 2nd June about 80 of the enemy, with machine guns and under artillery cover, pressed on to No.1 Maman; in spite of the gallant and desperate fighting of the 30 men under Lt TAKEMI the garrison was lost and on 10th June the south west mountain (seinansan) also fell into enemy hands.
Estimating that the enemy would try to consolidate for an attack on the northern edge of our positions at No.1 and No.2 Mari, Mt Tazaki, and south east mountain (tonansan), the Division commander quickly transferred 16th Infantry Regiment, which was under his direct control, to Bassam and ordered the 2nd line units in the central area to ambush attack in the Bassam area south of Tsurumaki River.
(vii) Fighting near Seinaidai, Hisshodai, Zenryu Mt and Kawakubo Mt.
From 22nd May the enemy opened up his attack on Seinaidai and Hisshodai. The units there fought well and fiercely; some members of 25th Airfield Battalion attacked the rear of the enemy, who was planning to advance, and routed him. Numerous troops, including the enemy commander, were killed and wounded. The enemy were determined to occupy Hisshodai so we counter attacked while they were preparing to camp; although our troops succeeded in killing about 20 of the enemy, as a result of powerful attacks by the enemy Seinaidai was captured on 9th June, Zenryu Mt and Hisshodai on 15th June and 16th June while Shoryu Mountain fell late in June.
Despite the valiant fighting of 2nd Coy., 39th Independent Automobile Battalion, Kawakubo Mountain was captured by the enemy on 10th June.
(viii) The Fighting and Disposition of the Divisions at No.2 Koikin and Tazaki Mountain.
As a result of the army’s all-out attack in early and mid June in the Dagua airfield and the Boikin area, there was a suspicion that the enemy would send out part of his strength from the Wewak area; but he planned a strong assault on Tazaki mountain, south-east mountain Shiburangu with his main strength; on 19th No.2 Koikin was captured after a devastating attack. In spite of desperate fighting by troops under Lt MITSUMURA, of Material Depot 39th Independent Automobile Battalion Tazaki Mountain eventually fell into enemy hands; thus the strategic line of the Alexander Range was now occupied by the enemy, and his artillery were looking down on its southern foot.
In order to remain in line with the ambush warfare of the units in the central area, the Division put 16th Infantry Regiment in control of the central area units, decided to use these former central area units for ambush warfare north of the Alexander Ranges, particularly in a defence to the death of Mari and South East Mountain, thus making a strong-point for the units north of the mountain, and with the east area units maintaining a strong-point on the left flank, cutting the enemy’s supply line to Tazaki Mountain.
(ix) Fighting near Shoryu Mountain, South East Mountain and Shoko Mountain.
The enemy who had occupied Zenryu Mountain in the western area from 20th June prepared to attack Shoryu Mt and on 10th July, under a heavy artillery barrage, advanced Shoryu Mt. Again, after the capture of Shoryu Mt, they transferred the onset to the big strong-point of South East Mountain, in front of Shiburangu, and to Shoko Mt. Day after day the positions were pounded by the artillery, and the land offensive began. However, for an eternity, against successive attacks, the garrisons in these areas repulsed the enemy, but nevertheless South East Mountain was captured by the enemy on 2nd July and Shoko Mt next on 3rd July.
The central area units planned to recapture South East Mountain and Tazaki Mountain and Major OKAZAKI of 51st Airfield Battalion on his own initiative reached the front of the position in piano wire formation at South East Mountain and threw the enemy into confusion with rifle fire, temporarily recapturing the position; however, enemy reinforcements attacked their rear and the 30 or so troops under Major OKAZAKI died gamely, so that it was not possible to hold the position.
Shoko Mt formed a central strong-point from the Sauri area to Kankodai and Zenko Mountain near Shiburangu and was garrisoned by 2nd Battalion, 115th Infantry Regiment; Zenko Mt was first attacked by the enemy from the Hanko Mt area and Shoko Mt was able (with about 20 members of Battalion H.Q.) to repulse the enemy several times; however, it was difficult because of lack of numbers, and each unit became surrounded and eventually the area had to be abandoned.
(x) The Shiburangu Battle.
The enemy planned to capture Shiburangu and was making fresh preparations. From 14th July in the morning he began to attack under cover of a violent attack from about 300 naval guns and artillery on the land. The garrison replied with splendid fighting as though from human bullets but the position was destroyed; casualties continued and first the mountain peak position was broken. Then, despite the brave fighting of the Army Service Corps unit which was firmly guarding the central positions, these also were captured. The loss of the central fortified positions, a stronghold within strongholds as far as the distant Sepik area, was a grievous blow to future ambush warfare.
After occupying Shiburangu, the enemy kept up successive attacks and on 22nd opened up a violent attack on No.2 Amburauri. The western area unit after the Shiburangu battle had violent fighting but their morale was high and 3rd Battalion 115th Infantry Regiment faced the enemy. The commander and every man of Watanabe Company continued the desperate struggle but finally No.2 Amburauri was captured.
(xi) Subsequent Control of Ambush Warfare by the Division and the Army's Counter-Plan.
With reference to control of the ambush warfare after the fall of Shiburangu, the Commander of 51st Division, in order to ambush the enemy who were advancing and to hold the western positions, sent 2nd Battalion 102nd Infantry Regiment from the central area and put them under the command of the western area commander. He aimed at holding the vital position in the Moikam area and ambushing the enemy in the region north of Moikam and Urindagun, and with a powerful unit in the central area making an attack, to throw the enemy into confusion, in his rear. He also had 1st Battalion 66th Infantry Regiment go back as far as the plain at Passam.
The Army, observing the situation of the fighting, unified the battle command in the region east of the central fortified area and in order to bring about ambush fighting in the Shiburangu-Numoikum road and Sauri-Jikinang road area it placed Aotsu Detachment under command of the Division Commander as from dawn on 23rd July.
The enemy artillery fire from the race course was really violent, and, planning to destroy it, on 29th July the 7th Airfield Transfer Repair Squad, Corporal KAKIBANA and 3 soldiers infiltrated into the area. Corporal KAKIBANA and his infiltrating troops made a daring penetration and achieved considerable success, as well as reconnoitring the enemy’s position, this considerably benefiting the control of the fighting, but they were, unfortunately, killed at the race course.
(xii) Situation in 51st Division’s area in August.
The enemy, aiming at Urindakun and Numoikum, on 22nd July captured No.2 Amburauri and then on 1st August began a movement gradually spreading out, from about 4th August they opened the attack on Urindagun. They captured it at dusk. At the same time as the enemy attacked Urindagun, from 4th August he used a strong force and opened another attack on Moikam; early on 6th under cover of fire from all service arms he violently attacked the whole area, and eventually at 2 p.m. it was over-run.
17. End of the War
Because the situation was reported to be urgent in the Numoikum area, the GOC parted with 51st Division commander and advanced to Kussham; in that area he gave the command for desperate fighting on 6th August and had the commander of 41st Infantry Group, who had made final efforts to construct the Sassoia area enclosed position, return to his original position.
There was a change which made it important whether to return to Numbok or not when the GOC was directing the eastern campaign. This was the infiltration into Yangol by part of the enemy.
Early in August the enemy attack in the western front became very violent, and in the 20th Division area there was a tendency for white soldiers to become less numerous and for black soldiers to increase. Again, in 41st Division’s area the attack became violent near Gwalip, Winge and Chaigol. The Division made improvised hand grenades and held their line. On 12th and 13th communication between the Division and Army Headquarters was severed, thus making matters awkward. Just as the army planned to send out a liaison unit in order to contact the Division, a report was received that on the 7th a part of the enemy force penetrated Boin and Baimuln region and was constructing a position. As a result of subsequent reconnaissance they learned the troop strength was being increased gradually; it was increased to about 700 men, with a nucleus of about 400 white soldiers and it looked as if they were spying out the Yangol airfield. All our Groups were absorbed in violent fighting on all sides as a result of the enemy’s fierce attack on both the east and west fronts, and as a result of lack of numbers were unable to take advantage of this piece of good luck.
The Army took Kakuichi Unit from 20th Division and the Higashi Unit from Hayashi unit and, with an eye to the future, strengthened the defence of Kiniambu and Makap, using as many troops as possible from 20th and 41st Division to cooperate with them and on 10th August the order was given for an encircling attack from the west.
The main attacking force, Hayashi Unit, concentrated in the area in the direct proximity of Mt Tsuru, the northern position line; it squeezed out as many of its troops as could be spared and moved the main strength into the region south of the mountains. At the same time, Kakuichi Unit held the Hambili, Gwalip, Kangurera line and Hayashi Unit used Higashi unit to hold the Soli-Niminsoli-Malenge line in order to impede the enemy’s eastward advance. In addition, part of the force carried out cover of the front and made daring infiltration and supported them with gradually assembling numbers.
On 13th August Kakuichi Unit surrounded Baimul and Kague and Higashi unit surrounded Baimuln, Sumbomia and Merukombi etc. Higashi unit planned to contact 41st Division and were able to make a ring of steel round the Yangol enemy, with the intention of compressing them.
However, after this the enemy did not make any positive manoeuvres but only made attacks with a platoon and this restrained the army. They stopped the attack in disappointment, abandoning the principle of fighting as one group, compressed their sphere of ambush warfare and awaited their final battle. Displaying the characteristic of an Imperial Army, they held their weapons and prepared for their last autumn.
The flags of the 79th, 80th and 137th Regiments, which had been lying in state at A.H.Q. since the But campaign had to be returned to the original units to fight to the death with them. Secret documents and other books necessary for the operation were reduced to the minimum and each man really transcended thoughts of life and death.
On 10th August there was a broadcast from Japan and on 13th a signal from the Army Minister that all troops must fight to the end for the sake of Japan; then unexpectedly, on 15th we received the Imperial Edicat announcing the cessation of hostilities, and this was the end of the New Guinea campaign.
Printed on 01/22/2018 01:28:04 PM
At the same time as the Army attacked Aitape, a reconnaissance unit was sent to the area on the southern side of the Alexander Range. At the time of its despatch, its duties were the splendid plan of going ahead as far as distant Hollandia, reconnoitring the terrain and contacting friendly units. However, after its departure, these duties were reduced. Its first objective was to make the enemy at Aitape feel that there was a danger at his back, and thus indirectly help our frontal attack by absorbing the attention of the enemy strength in that area. Its second objective was a direct one – to investigate local resources in a wide area about which nothing was known, and to have this material ready as useful data in subsequent operations. This reconnaissance unit was not very large. But what it lacked in numbers it made up in ability and concentration, and great things could be expected from it. The officers of this unit, OTAKA, ISHII, NARIAI, KITAMOTO and others were all young and had been given special training in this type of duty. They went ahead to the area on the southern side of the Alexander Range, and every day reported by wireless about their reconnaissance. The information was of great value to me, in the rear H.Q. at Sarupu, for I obtained details about local resources which enabled me to make plans for self-support in the future.
Order to subordinate units concerning commencement of decisive ambush warfare. (18th March 1945)
Mentioned in Despatches
Mo Battle Order Number 371.
Receipt of Letter of Approval.
To 18th Army and its Attached Units.
16. Position in the Wewak Area, Eastern Front.