Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

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hisashi
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Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

Post by hisashi » 20 Dec 2006 14:31

Major Yoshitaka HORIE was a man of fate.
In 1937, He was hit by Chinese machinegun and one bullet penetrated his head. He was not killed but he suffered some handycap on walking from the damage on the nerve. He was a graduate of the army academy but was appointed as an atache to navy 1st sea escort HQ, and afterwards he became a specialist of sea transport.
He was appointed to 31st army HQ as the chief supply staff in June 5,1944. He asked the navy to transport him by scheduled flying boat, and kept a seat in the service in June 16. The U.S. landed Saipan at 15 June and flying boat was cancelled. He spent much time at navy GHQ for getting newest information about Ozawa's fleet. Other irritating staffs appointed to 31st army made a plan to fly Taiwan-Palau-Guam route to share the fate of their HQ, but they could not fine Horie in time for the flight. They did so with Genrral Obata isolated at Palau and were dead in Guam. Horie survived again.
He was appointed to Kuribayashi's 109th division (Ogasawara Group). As a transport staff, he was eventually isolated in Chichijima after the landing of the U.S. forces to Iwojima.
Once I wrote a long post about Iwojima, but later I got Horie's recall 'Tokon Iwojima (fighting spirit,Iwojima)', originally published in 1965, reprinted in 2005. His recall contains many first-hand account about the personalities of officers and the real situations on the life of Islands. I will add them to this thread.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 20 Dec 2006 14:46

Thanks hisashi.

He served with the 2nd Regiment,14th Division in China.

More on Horie here:

http://209.35.125.46/plf-usmc/jdefenseref.htm

Regards
Peter

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Post by hisashi » 22 Dec 2006 18:41

At first, there were only navy airfield in Iwojima, and all militarymrn in the Island were the navy. In February 1944, many small troops were raised from reserve personnel and was sent to Iwojima and other Ogasawara Islands. It was in April Colonel ATSUJI came to Iwojima with his army men. At first Major General OSUGA led all army troops in Ogasawara and Atsuji was the commander of detachment at Iwojima.
Kuribayashi arrived to Iwojima in June 1944, and many small troops gathered to Ogasawara was bound into 109th division. Osuga became the commander of 2nd mixed brigade and moved to Iwojima, and newly 1st mixed brigade was raised and major general Yoshio TACHIBANA led it in Chichi-jima. Now Atsuji had no job so it was natural to send him back for another job, but he was 'attached' to divisional HQ and was directed to stay in Iwojima. Iwojima was so hard place that if anybody was sent back from Iwojima it might stir up other men's desire to escape from the island. Fearless appearance of Japanese troop was barely kept on vulnerable balance. Horie described him as 'a poor loser from Kagoshima'. He led the defense of Suribachi-Yama and was killed there.

After the fall of Iwojima Tachibana was promoted to Lt.Gen. and became the commander of 109th division at Chichi-Jima. Horie described him briefly as 'a keen man' in his book. Another source says later he telegraphed to Tokyo from Chichi-Jima 'We have a problem. Send a new division commander please'. This sourse is a review in a blog and I will try to find out the book which mention this episode. Tachibana was later executed accused of eating flesh from PAW U.S. pilot's executed bodies.
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/yamashita6.htm (search this article by 'Tachibana')

This thread continues more. Stay tuned.

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2006 03:56

Yes, this is interesting. Not enough Japanese eyewitness and other historical material has been translated into English.

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Post by hisashi » 23 Dec 2006 14:31

Thank you Peter and Carl for cheering words!

I found the book in question.

Showashino Nazowo ou (Seeking for Enigma in the Showa-Era History)
HATA Ikuhiko, first published in 1993 (from Bungei-Shunjyusha)
ISBN 4167453053(pbk.)

Professor Hata is a well known war historian. His article sometimes sounds cynical, but generally he deals with facts and evidences evenly with minimum emotion of any kind. This volume is a collection of articles appeared serially on two magazines. A chapter deals with the cannibalism in Chichi-Jima. He seems to have read some unpublished recall of Horie, or made an interview to him. This chapter includes some facts only Horie knew.

Hata did not specify the date, but
As soon as Horie heard the news [that Tachibana would be the divisional commander], he sent a telegram to tokyo 'We have a problem. Send a new man suitable for a divisional commander'. Seeing no reply, he sent again 'Send a suitable staff-in-chief instead, if you cannot'. He got a reply 'It is impossible because you are isolated'.(p.257)

Until Iwojima was lost, Horie was authorized from Kuribayashi to direct Tachibana and his brigade in the name of Ogasawara group HQ. Major Horie, born in 1913, was so trusted from Kuribayashi, and perhaps Tachibana was not. Staffs in Tokyo knew that Horie was so trusted and something happened in Chichi-Jima. Lt.Gen SHIBAYAMA Kenshiro, vice minister of the army, took seriously of Horie's word and insisted that they should send any general. But in March 1945 it was too dangerous to send an aircraft to Chichi-Jima.

Five officers were hang on this case, and an officer sentenced to lifetime inprisonment was hang with another war crime in the former appointment. Several top officers in the Island killed the U.S. pilots escaped from aircrafts and ate them.


What's a detour! Now let's go back to Kuribayashi.

Kuribayashi was an elite of elite; he graduated army war academy in a very good record (next to top) and experienced important posts in line and staff as a cavalry officer. In 1941 major general Kuribayashi was appointed as the staff-in-chief of 23rd army. This army was in South China and secured Hongkong in December 1941.
In June 1943 he became Lt.Gen and moved to Imperial Guard 2nd Rusu (homeguard) division. Since 1941 Imperial Guard Division took over divisional draftee management in Tokyo area from Rusu 1st division, abolished in this year. After IGD moved to Indonesia, IGD was renumbered as IG 2nd division. In Tokyo, the army raised new IGD as an operational troop and IG 2nd homeguard division for draftee management. Tokyo divisional district was most populated perhaps so briliant Kuribayashi was appointed. As far as I searched, no source says this appointment is a relegation. According to Horie's recall, he said later 'I was dismissed accused of a Kanko under my command setting up a fire accident'. Kanko is a student of wartime short course for officers and NCOs, and his dismissal was in April 1944. His appointment to 109th division was May 27.

continued....

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Post by hisashi » 24 Dec 2006 19:25

The most impressive scene in Horie's recall is when he met Kuribayashi first(pp.75-86). It was June 29, 1944 when Horie arrived to Iwojima and met with Kuribayashi. They ate supper together with whisky (Kuribayashi did not drink sake) and canned meals. Kuribayashi told that he saw Detroit driving a car by himself when he was an army atache in the U.S. and had been impressed of U.S. industrial power. He said Iwojima would become a lure for attracting U.S.fleet for decisive battle by navies. Horie said 'The obit of Japan was ten days ago, June 19'. he explained Ozawa's taskforce was defeated and the last hope was gone, but Kuribayashi said Horie drank too much.
Next day they took their supper together again. Horie had read and memorized numerous navy telegraphs, so he explained the aftermath of Midway, and the heavy loss of freight ships and escorts. He explained the fates of more than 50 vessels in detail, and Kuribayashi became serious. Horie said this war came to an end in June 19. Horie insisted that once the war had begun with the emperor's direction, they had no way other than becoming martyrs, and 'winning' their own war by killing ten enemy for one Japanese victim. Kuribayashi was shocked. Horie went to Chichi-Jima soon and did not visit Iwojima until August.
Horie's memoir contains many other survivors' short recall. In the first of July, a civilian SAKURAI Naosaku talked with Kuribayashi in Iwojima (Kuribayashi used his house for headquarter). The loss of Saipan was just out to civilian and the evacuation of civilians from Iwojima was going. Sakurai said 'It's the turn for Iwojima to attract the enemy and beat them, your excellency' but Kuribayashi replied 'I am sorry we are not powerful enough to prevent your inconvenience but now we have no way'. It is an evidence Kuribayashi believed Horie's word.

Horie recalls Kuribayashi's direction was detailed, plain and stubborn. Other high-rank officers were often irritated, partly they were relatively optimistic about the fate of the island, and severity of the U.S. naval fire. Kuribayashi called for the replacement of his staff-in-chief, his brigade leader, and a few batallion leaders and got them. On the other hand, he is very disciplined; after coming to Iwo-Jima, he never visited Chichi-Jima and stayed in the island of hard climate.

Horie met Lt.Col. Nishi when His freighyer was sunk and most tanks were lost. He was disappointed, and more demoted hearing there would be no room for maneuver under suppressive naval fire and tanks would be mainly used in dug-in form. He asked to Horie to ask Tokyo to transfer him wherever he could fight in maneuver warfare. Horie denied saying that officers were recently never moved once they were appointed into isolated area.
Nishi denied to have his head shoven, and behaved freely as 'attached' to army cavalry school until hecame back from Berlin Olympic in 1936 without medal. He was very rich and his gold-medal horse Uranus in Los Angels Olympic was of his own. So they say some officers disliked him. Considering that typical officers who did not graduate from war academy ended up hiscareer as an army captain, his promotion was not bad. But he was not a staff officer, so as a result he was transferred frequently among cavalry, later armored troops.

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Re: Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

Post by Sewer King » 02 Aug 2012 05:25

In someone else’s research thread, I expressed regret that Horie’s book Tokon Iō-to (Fighting Spirit: Iwo Jima) had not been translated into English. This was all the more so because Horie himself became an accomplished translator after the war.

Finally, it has been translated:
A brief book review was written by author Edward Drea (author of Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall), in:
He places Fighting Spirit among scholarly studies, official accounts, and personal memoirs of the war then being published in Japan. Although he said that the book shows some age after almost 50 years, that is no different from leading WW2 histories of the same time. The two best-known comparisons might be William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and John Toland’s The Rising Sun. Both are landmark books for their theaters of the war. And both remain in print today, even though they have since been built upon or surpassed in one way or another.

In English-language WW2 books, Horie might be best-known for the extensive support he gave to John Toland when he wrote The Rising Sun (Random House, 1969).

In that book, he himself appears mainly in his role as chief-of-staff to General Kuribayashi at iwo Jima. This is natural of course, but he also contributed some note about war strategy in the Southern theater, in opposition to the infamous Colonel Tsuji Masanobu.
  • Many general and popular English accounts of Iwo have since followed Horie’s telling in Toland’s book. This is similar to popular Battle of Midway histories that long relied on Fuchida Mitsuo’s accounts (disproved as they now are).
It would seem that Horie wrote his book about the same time that he worked with Toland, almost as if the two works were connected.

Drea added that Fighting Spirit was written for a wider popular audience. Thus it introduced many Japanese readers to a different narrative of the Pacific War. Horie was said to have used some official American accounts and war histories to support his telling.
  • Admiral Ugaki Matome’s diaries were translated as Fading Victory (Naval Institute Press reprint; originally University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991). The editors footnoted Ugaki’s entries with corresponding US records of events that he referred to (both matching and not matching). Horie’s own deliberate reference to US sources would be quite different.
But even though Fighting Spirit is old to our Japanese experts here, it will be new to the rest of us. Before now, the only comparable mid-level army staff officer’s viewpoint that I knew translated is even older and more general -- Hayashi Saburo’s book Kōgun. Although not as specialized or detailed as Horie’s account or experience, it is also still available in print after almost 60 years.

-- Alan
Last edited by Sewer King on 03 Aug 2012 03:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

Post by ijnfleetadmiral » 02 Aug 2012 18:09

I agree with Carl on this...several IJN commanders wrote their memoirs after the war (ADM Toyoda Soemu and VADM Kusaka Ryunosuke to name two prime examples), but they are as of right now only available in Japanese. I'd LOVE to read both memoirs!

-Matt
MSG, MS State Guard (Ret.) - First Always!

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Re: Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

Post by dgfred » 02 Aug 2012 20:52

Good stuff. Thanks for posting it 8-) .

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Helen Bachaus
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Re: Kuribayashi's Staff talks about Iwojima

Post by Helen Bachaus » 05 Aug 2012 23:15

Thank you for this insight on this man. I'll purchase this book for reading.

Cheers,

Helen

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