SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

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Car79322
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SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Car79322 » 24 Sep 2023 17:36

Hello all once again,
Similar to my previous post on the 14th Division, now I am researching SNLF units at Milne Bay and Buna. But I have some questions

1. I gleaned from a post by Fontessa on "More IJN Officer Info" the adjutant of the 5th Kure SNLF was Lt Sakurai Yoshimasa. Would that mean, although it is not named, this would have to be his diary? https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2875608

2. It seems that all SNLFs involved at Milne Bay, 5th Kure, 5th Yokosuka, 3rd Kure, and 5th Sasebo, would have each had 4 37mm AT guns(Rikugun). However, only the 3rd Kure brought 3 37mm guns to Milne Bay. Is this correct? Did the 5th Sasebo deploy any 37mm guns to Buna?

3. The 5th Kure and 5th Sasebo carried the Type 96 LMG, but the 3rd Kure and possibly 5th Yokosuka still used the Type 11. Is this correct?

4. Although the 5th Kure and 3rd Kure certainly seemed to follow the pattern of being mostly men in their 30s and/or reservists, all 5 prisoner interrogation reports of 5th Sasebo men captured at Lae, Buna, and the Milne Bay area show them to have been all men in their 20s, mostly early 20s. Is this pure coincidence? Or was it different than these other SNLFs in that it was more younger men? This is from the AJRP section of the AWM website.

5. Although typically sources seem to suggest the initial Milne Bay landing was around 12 AM on August 26th, one of the captured diaries seems to suggest his unit, 5th Kure, landed at 10:08 PM on August 25th unopposed, meeting no resistance. It would seem it was apart from the main landing. Is this possible? https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2654062?image=16

6. Although the IJN rank system had recently changed, many of these men seemed to use old ranks. One of the captured men from 5th Sasebo is still rated as a Seaman 3rd Class, although this rank it seems was eliminated. Did these SNLFS continue using old uniform insignia and the old rank system?

These are very specific questions, but if you have answers to even one of them, it would be helpful.
Justin

adachi
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by adachi » 24 Sep 2023 22:22

1. I think that is correct

2. Since RIkugun does not provide direct citations for each unit it covers, it is hard to rely on for specific unit organization. I have not seen a breakdown of weapons for each unit at Milne Bay but according to the loss report (JACAR ref.C08030062300) only the Kure 3rd SNLF lost their 37mm AT guns. With the high losses of both materiel and personnel, I think if other units had them at Milne Bay they would have been lost and in the report too.
According to JACAR ref.C19010308100 only a mere 110 troops from the Sasebo 5th SNLF and 292 from the Yokosuka 5th SNLF were at Buna (the Yokosuka 5th SNLF had sent over half of its original personnel to Kiska, Milne Bay, and Guadalcanal, so it was a very small unit by this point). It doesn't specify which unit, but it says the Buna Naval Garrison had 3 AT guns. They also had two 8cm AA Guns, one 25mm AAMG (triple mount), and three 13mm AAMGs.

3. I don't have enough data to answer this question unfortunately. In many cases both T96 and T11 LMGs are simply listed as "LMG" in reports.

4. There is not enough data to research this I think, since I don't know of a full unit roster for the Sasebo 5th SNLF. The Kure 3rd SNLF was exceptionally poor quality in terms of troops but other SNLFs did rely heavily on reservists as well. I did find a roster for the Sasebo 2nd SNLF's artillery company (formed in October 1941) which was approximately 50/50 active duty and reservists, so I think the quality could have only declined since then. Also a slightly unrelated note on the Sasebo 5th SNLF; the Fujikawa Company which directly participated in Milne Bay was not actually a Sasebo SNLF, but a Daihatsu unit from the 2nd Combined SNLF Command hailing from Yokosuka and had been transferred to the Sasebo 5th SNLF in July 1942.

5. JACAR ref.C08030062200 frame 22 indicates the Kure 5th SNLF 1st Company landed on the evening of the 25th and frame 15 says a bloodless landing was achieved at 2230 hours on the 25th. Other parts of the unit arrived on the 26th.

6. Old insignia and sometimes old name tags with abolished ranks would be worn until the end of the war. This was due to low supplies but also sailors liked the earlier insignia and often wore them as a sign of seniority.

Car79322
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Car79322 » 25 Sep 2023 01:27

Adachi,



1. I thought so but wanted to be sure. Funny enough, soon after posting that I actually discovered they have a separate diary for him(named) which describes some of his ship service, cuts off, then picks back up suddenly on August 26th. Obviously cuts again. I will link it in case someone wants to see. Very odd. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2648755?image=93



2. I likely misunderstood what the author stated in Rikugun. I do understand the predicament, and your conclusion certainly would make sense. They seem to have left Milne Bay in quite a panic. It stands to reason they would have lost it all had they really had it.



4. Is there a reason for the 3rd Kure’s personnel quality struggles being worse than others? Even one image of them, the one of a platoon of them in “Hell’s Islands” seated in rows, makes them appear incredibly old.



5. Thanks for clearing that up, few seem to mention the earlier landing. I suppose this guy must have been one of them.



On a separate note, were any of these SNLFs recruited on a regional basis? By regional basis what I mean is, for example, most personnel of the 3rd Kure are mobilized reservists actually from Kure or a region nearby type deal. I do not believe so from what I have seen, but just want to be sure none of them were as such.



Nice book, by the way. It has proven very useful. If you find more on this and have the chance, please let me know.



Thanks again,

Justin

adachi
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by adachi » 25 Sep 2023 13:21

Thank you for linking the diary.

I do like Rikugun and I think the vast majority of information is correct. Not to mention the organizational details provided are unrivaled. It's just without inline citations to verify specific information sometimes I am skeptical to rely on it.

I can't offer a good explanation for why Kure relied so excessively on reservists to form units. I can only assume they focused on sending all of the active duty troops to ships and air units. The supply chief of the Kure 5th SNLF remarked in his book "Sora to Umi no Hate de" that when they raised the unit and were doing swimming trials, several sailors could not even swim and were rejected from the unit. They were truly scraping at the bottom of the barrel. Even in the airborne Yokosuka 3rd SNLF which was as close to an elite unit as it got for SNLF, those in the transport and other supportive elements look very aged like those in the Kure 3rd SNLF.

The Naval Districts each administered and recruited from certain regions of Japan. I've attached a map of the areas. Pink was Yokosuka, green was Maizuru, yellow was Kure, and blue was Sasebo. Generally units formed at each naval district only take non-commissioned personnel from their jurisdiction but when they need specialists or were short personnel they could draw troops from elsewhere. Commissioned officers belonged to the naval ministry so regardless of their home-place they could serve in any unit. Essentially, units were supposed to be comprised of their namesake district's personnel but it was quite a wide region, especially for Yokosuka. There were also many units with a mix of two or more districts personnel as the war progressed. I tend to find this more common outside of SNLF, for example guard units or air groups. The 5th Guard Unit on Kiska for example had several hundred troops from Maizuru, Kure, and Yokosuka.

Thank you for the kind comment about my book. I hope to write more interesting stuff about naval infantry in the future.

Image

Car79322
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Car79322 » 26 Sep 2023 03:49

Adachi,

Apologies for the late reply

I agree that they truly must have been scraping the bottom. However, from what I gather, the 6th Kure interestingly enough seems to have done a not too horrible job against Marine Raiders and U.S. Army units in the Central Solomons in mid 1943. Late 42/early 43 SNLF units such as the 6th Kure/7th Sasebo seem to have still been very dangerous on the defense. These units also interest me, but I might save that for a later thread so as not to go too off topic/I do not spam new threads. Is the 5th Kure supply chief's book a very good source/worth attempting to attain? 

As for Rikugun, the citations part is a little difficult. I am attempting to obtain, though, one of the sources used "Special Translation No. 10; Data on Special Naval Landing Forces" as I want to see the TO&Es for more SNLFs than are available online. Atm I am heavily reliant on English sources as I do not speak Japanese and Japanese books on the matter are harder to get here. Think Japanese is pretty necessary for this subject.

I know for the LMG issue, as you said, it's not always clear what unit would have used the Type 11 or Type 96. However, for these 1942 SNLFs, and perhaps also 1943, would it be safe to assume basically all would have been using the Type 38 rifle? Would any of these have been created issued with the Type 99 or switched to it? I imagine the Navy attained the 7.7mm weapons slower/less than the IJA.

I also appreciate the anecdote about the 3rd Yokosuka. I find it very odd that the IJN made two parachute qualified units that still weren't quite "elite" and filled them with similarly aged personnel. Were these elements also parachute qualified? I would think so.

Also thank you for this map. I now see why the real Japanese name of these units included the word "District" they could be recruited from quite a wide area.
Justin

adachi
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by adachi » 30 Sep 2023 22:37

The 8th Combined SNLF and its subordinate Yokosuka 7th, Kure 6th, and Maizuru 4th SNLF battalions were regarded as fairly high quality. They still had a large number of "low quality" troops but with the sheer number of weapons and some very seasoned officers in the cadre, they proved to be quite formidable. Likewise the Sasebo 7th SNLF was heavily armed and had some great officers to lead it. Commander Sugai Takeo had been the head of land warfare training at Tateyama Naval Gunnery School and even one of the company commanders, Special Duty Lt. Taniguchi Tamekichi had been a trainer at the Naval Gunnery School in his petty officer days and received army training to become a land warfare expert. Compared to the armament of the typical Army Infantry regiment's battalions, SNLF units and many guard units even with their low quality troops were no doubt impressive.

The Kure 5th SNLF Chief Supply Officer's book is good, but only in Japanese I think. I was able to get it for only a few dollars from a second-hand book store. The title and author's name in Japanese is: 空と海の涯で―第一航空艦隊副官の回想 門司親徳

The 8th Combined SNLF seems to be when SNLF made the move to the Type 99 rifle. Records for the Kure 6th SNLF show they were armed with them and memoirs from reserve officer Fukuyama in the Yokosuka 7th SNLF state the same for his unit. The Yokosuka 6th SNLF apparently had Type 38 rifles, but sometime while in the Gilberts, perhaps after being converted to the 3rd Special Base Force, they were switched with Type 99 rifles. It should be noted a number of naval infantry units kept using Type 38s until the end of the war as well. What units received probably hinged upon available weapon stocks during their formation and whether or not they were earmarked for frontline service.

Most of the support elements in the airborne SNLFs were not para-trained, with the exception of the communications section. It is still a bit strange to me that such important units would not invest more in the quality of their supportive elements.

Eugen Pinak
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Eugen Pinak » 02 Oct 2023 14:32

Car79322 wrote:
26 Sep 2023 03:49
I am attempting to obtain, though, one of the sources used "Special Translation No. 10; Data on Special Naval Landing Forces" as I want to see the TO&Es for more SNLFs than are available online.
You lost me here. Both Special Translation No. 10 and the Supplement to it are available online:
https://dl.ndl.go.jp/pid/4009463/
https://dl.ndl.go.jp/pid/4009464/

Are there more supplements to this Special Translation No. 10 then the one above?

Car79322
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Car79322 » 03 Oct 2023 03:21

Adachi, thank you for that. It clears up some of my questions about that, as I was puzzled how these SNLFs seemed to perform better than others before them(while still being far from elite). US Marines seemed to truly respect the Tarawa defenders, maybe more than any other group/unit they encountered in the pacific, as I have seen you guys have somewhat discussed before with the "6 foot tall SNLF" situation.

As for the rifle thing, that makes sense. Its earlier than I thought. I will say though, this document from the AWM is a bit strange. I will post it in case you have not seen it. It seems to refer to the 6th Kure, as I believe they were the only ones in possession of 14cm guns on New Georgia. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C3253084?image=8 I also am a bit confused by the designation of "Model 98 rifle". And the document also suggests that some were carrying Type 38 carbines.

Eugen, I did not realize it was available online until after that post. I found it shortly after. But as far as I know, there are no others. Someone like Adachi might be better able to inform you though. 
Thank you all,
Justin

Eugen Pinak
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by Eugen Pinak » 03 Oct 2023 19:43

Car79322 wrote:
03 Oct 2023 03:21
Eugen, I did not realize it was available online until after that post. I found it shortly after. But as far as I know, there are no others. Someone like Adachi might be better able to inform you though. 
Thank you all,
Justin
You are welcome, Justin.
I so hoped there are more TOEs like those I've posted :)

adachi
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Re: SNLF at Milne Bay and Buna-Equipment etc.

Post by adachi » 07 Oct 2023 05:36

I attempted to locate the original documents used for the translation of the presumed Kure 6th SNLF's weapons but haven't been successful.

There are some combat reports from the Kure 6th SNLF in Japanese on JACAR but they don't seem to include a full list of light weapons, just heavier ones. There is however portions for platoons which show their weapons. They indeed used Type 99 rifles. If I can guess, Model 98 rifle is a mistranslation of Type 99 and Type 38 carbine may be a mistranslation of the regular Type 38.

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