CBI – Japanese Operations Record – Burma – WW-2 – Ground Forces (1)

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Burma Operations Record, 28th Army Operations in Akyab Area
Revised in 1958
Prepared by the HQs USAFFE & Eight US Army (rear)
Distributed by the Office of the Chief of Military History
Distributed today by the European Center of Military History

This record was compiled by the former staff officer of the 28th Japanese Army, Col Aiichi Okamura during his internment in Burma after the termination of the war an was reviewed by Lt Gen Shozo Sakurai former commander of the 28th Army. After the record was received by the Information and Historical Record Division, Japanese Demobilization Bureau it was subject to some correction by Maj Nizo Yamaguchi, former staff officer of the Southern Area Army and presently a member of the above-mentioned Division.

This record is based on the documents which were available at the former Army headquarters just after the termination of the war, and on the recollection of former staff officers of the 28th Army, Lt Col Eiichi Tsuchiya, Maj Masakatsu Okudaira, Maj Tatsuru Yamaguchi and all former department chiefs of the Army headquarters and commanders of units under the command or the Army. (August 29 1952).(Revised Edition 1958) Many former officers of the Japanese 28th Army were of assistance to the Foreign Histories Division in filling in the gaps and correcting the inaccuracies in the original manuscript. We acknowledge our indebtedness and express our thanks to the following officer : Lt Gen Tadashi Hanaya, CG, 55th Division; Maj Gen Koba, CG, 54th Infantry-Group, Maj Gen Yamamoto, CG, 72nd Mixed Brigade, Col Kawamura, CoS, 55th Division, Col Furuya, CO, 112th Inrantry- Regiment, Col Yoshida, CO, 144th Infantry Regiment, Lt Col Saito, Staff Officer, 54th Division, Maj Tsujimoto, CO, 1/1430-IR, Maj Matsuo, CO, 2/143-IR, Maj Kurooka, CO, 3/143-IR, Maj Yamanaka, CO, 1/29-IR. We are also indebted to Mr Nishiura, Chief of the War Histories Section, Army Staff College, Japanese Self Defense Force, for his assistance to this division in making official records available, in particular The Memories of Lt Gen Sakurai (CG, 28th Army); Diary of Maj Gen Sakurai (CG, 55th Infantry group); Operations Report of the 28th Army, by Lt Col Tsuchiya and Maj Pukutomi, (Staff Officers of the 28th Army) and the Operations Report of the 54th Division. Casualty lists were furnished by the 1st Demobilization Bureau of the Ministry of Public Welfare. (April 30 1958)

Preface

Through Instructions N° 126 to the Japanese Government, October 12 1945, subject : Institution for War Records Investigation, steps were initiated to exploit military historical records and official reports of the Japanese War Ministry and Japanese General Staff. Upon dissolution of the War Ministry and the General Staff, and the transfer of their former functions to the Demobilization Bureau, research and compilation continued and developed into a series of historical monographs. The paucity of original orders, plans and unit journals, which are normally essential in the preparations of this type of record, most of which were lost or destroyed during field operations, bombing raids, rendered the task of compilation most difficult; particularly distressing has been the complete lack of official strength reports, normal in AG or G-3 records. However, while many of the important orders, plans and estimates, have been reconstructed from memory and therefore are not textually identical with the originals, they are believed to be generally accurate and reliable.


Under the supervision of the Demobilization Bureau, the basic material contained in this monograph was compiled and written in Japanese by former officers, on duty in command and staff units within major units during the period of operations. Translation was effected through the facilities of Allied Translator and Interpreter Service, G-2, General Headquarters, Far East Command. This Japanese Operational Monograph was rewritten in English by the Japanese Research Division, Military History Section, General Headquarters, Far East Command and is based on the translation or the Japanese original. Editorial corrections were limited to those necessary for coherence and accuracy (29 August 1952). Revised Edition : This monograph, originally edited in August 1952, was completely revised in 1958. The original edition, which was developed from fragmentary records and recollections, tailed to present the various operations in proper relationship to each other. This lack of cohesion made it virtually impossible to gain an understanding of the overall operational situation in Burma. During the five and one half years that elapsed between the publication of the two editions a tremendous amount of additional information became available, making it possible to rectify the many errors of omission and commission in the original. Map coverage has also been expanded ana improved. The rewriting and editing of the revised monograph was accomplished by the Foreign Histories Division, Office of the Military History Officer, Headquarters United States Army Japan, successor to the original editing agency. Research and compilation of data for the revised edition was performed by former Lt Col M. Iwata, now a Senior Military Operational Analyst with the Foreign Histories Division. (April 30 1958)

The Ha-Go Operation (Situation Late 1943)
Since the end of the 1943 monsoon season, the war situation in Burma had become increasingly acute and by September the enemy was building up strength on all sides. In the Akyab sector, in western Burma, the British-Indian 5th Division and 7th Division were disposed in depth of the Buthidaung – Maungdaw front, with two or three additional divisions backing them up. There were signs of preparations for an offensive in the near future. Enemy vessels massed in the Chittagong Harbor, the Naf River and other points, combined with increased enemy ship movements, were believed to be indications of a possible amphibious attack on Akyab. In Assam Province, Imphal and vicinity was the base of enemy operations and the British-Indian 17th Division, the 20th Division and the 23rd Division as well as one other division were advancing to this sector. The enemy was rebuilding the Imphal – Palel – Tamu road and the Imphal – Churachandpur – Tiddim road into motor vehicle roads. At the northern end of the Hukawng Valley the New 1st Army of the Chungking Army and a US brigade, both commanded by Gen Joseph E. Stilwell, were located in the vicinity of Ledo. The New 1st Army was greatly superior to other Chinese armies in organization, equipment and training. Here to indications of preparations for an offensive could be observed. In the Yunnan area of northeastern Burma, approximately ten divisions of the Chinese Yunnan Expeditionary Army had occupied positions along the east bank of the Salween River west of Tali. While preparations for an offensive were not being energetically pushed in this area, it was estimated that the Army would be prepared to launch an offensive in cooperation with any offensive launched by the British-Indian forces and the Stilwell’s force.

The U-Go (Imphal) Operation Planned
On August 7, the Southern Army directed the Burma Area Army to make preparations for an offensive against eastern India. After a study of the enemy situation, the Area Army commander determined to conduct only holding operations against the Yunnan Expeditionary Army in the Salween River area and against the Stilwell’s force in the Hukawng Valley sector. The main offensive against eastern India would be undertaken by the 15th Army with the 15th, 31st and 33rd Divisions. On August 12 the Burma Area Army issued orders to the 15th Army to start preparations for the U-Go (Imphal) Operation to be conducted in early 1944.

Ha-Go Operation Plans
As a diversionary action, the Area Army planned the Ha-Go Operation, an offensive to be launched in the Arakan Sector by elements of the 55th Division, two or three weeks prior to the start of the U-Go Operation. In November 1943, Lt Gen Hanaya was designated as commander of the 55th Division and in preparation for the forthcoming Offensive, immediately proceeded to make plans and effect troops positions :

Maungdaw – Buthidaung Front
– 55th Infantry group Headquarters
– 143rd Infantry Regiment
West Coast (from Donbaik to the mouth at the Naf River)
– 112th Infantry Regiment (less one battalion)
Akyab Area
– 55th Reconnaissance Regiment
– 1/112th Infantry Regiment
Kaladan River Front
– 1/213th Infantry Regiment

A force composed of the 144th Infantry Regiment, the 1/55th Mountain Artillery Regiment and one engineer company which had been rehabilitated in Rabaul after engaging in the New Guinea Campaign as the South Sea Detachment, reverted to 55th Division control and arrived during December and January. In addition, the 111th Infantry Regiment (less the 2/111 and the 3/111) and the 2/54th Field Artillery Regiment, were transferred from the 54th Division, in mid-January, to reinforce Akyab during the Ha-Go Operation. The division commander’s plan called for the launching of an attack against the enemy’s base of operations at Bawli Bazar. The main attack would be aimed at destroying the British-Indian 7th Division, in the area east of the Mayu Range, with a pincer movement launched simultaneously from the north and south. Then, by shifting, the main body of the Division in the vicinity of Ngangyaung, they would crush the enemy 5th Division in the Maungdaw area, west of the Mayu Range. This phase of the Ha-Go Operation is generally known as the Northern Arakan Operation as distinguished from the Kaladan Operation which was a subsequent development of the Ha-Go Operation.

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten observing Mandalay from a distance aboard a WC command car, Burma, January 13-18 1945

Activation of the 28th Army
In consideration of the War situation in late 1943, Imperial General Headquarters had determined to conduct counter offensives in China and Burma. The Yunnan-Kwangsi Offensive was to be launched in China to destroy American air bases and the India Offensive would be launched from northwestern Burma to strengthen the Japanese defensive position. There were obvious indications of possible sea and land offensives by the enemy, including the naval bombardment of the Ramree Island in December 1943. If the Burma Area Army was to be committed to operations against eastern India a strong defensive force would be necessary to hold southwestern Burma. Accordingly, on January 15 1944, the order of battle of the 28th Army was announced. Lt Gen Shozo Sakuray had been announced as 28th Army commander on January 7 1944. He had taken part in the original Burma campaign in 1942 as commander of the 33rd Division and since March 1943, had been commander of the Army Mechanized Headquarters in Tokyo. Maj Gen Hideo Iwakuro was designated as chief of staff being relieved from his position as chief of the General Affairs Department, Military Administration Office, 25th Army (Sumatra). The chief of staff was sent to Rangoon on January 18 to expedite the organization of the Army headquarters and on January 21 the Army commander arrived. Although the staff was composed primarily of personnel already in Burma, a few key members were transferred from other areas and by January 30, the organization of the headquarters was complete. The code name Saku Group was given to the army and for purpose of keeping its identity secret the name Saku Unit continued to be used. This ruse appeared to be successful as the enemy apparently identified the newly formed 28th Army as being a mixed brigade which had advanced from Malaya.

Composition and Order of Battle 28th Army
Headquarters 28th Army
– Lt Gen Shozo Sakurai, CO
– Maj Gen Hideo Iwakuro, C/S
2nd Division
– Lt Gen Seizaburo Okazaki, CO
– Col Takeo Kinoshita, C/S
54th Division
– Lt Gen Shihachi Katamura, CO
– Col Jiro Itta, C/S
55th Division
– Lt Gen Tadashi Hanaya, CO
– Col Benji Kawamura, C/S
14th Independent Antitank Gun Battalion
– Maj Nanao Nakao, CO, (Hq, 3 Companies, Ammo Train)
71st Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
– Maj Teiichi Ota, CO, (Hq, 3 Batteries)
44th Field Antiaircraft Machine Gun Company
– Unfortunately unknown.
20th Field Road Construction Unit
– Lt Col Akuta (200 men)
101st Field Road Construction Unit
– Capt Hiromitsu Matsumoto, CO, (Hq, 3 Companies, 16 Off, 321 EM)
51st Independent Transport Battalion
– Maj Sadaji Inoue, CO, (6 Companies, Horse-drawn)
55th Independent Motor Transport Battalion
– Maj Takaziro Ryu, CO, (4 Companies, 50 trucks each, 1 materiel depot)
236th Independent Motor Transportation Company
– 1/Lt Shutaro Katsuta
10th Provisional Motor Transport Company
– Unfortunately unknown
26th Ponton Bridge Company
– Capt Kazushige Kuwabara
10th River Crossing Materiel Company
– Capt Torao Fujioka
70th Casualty Clearing Platoon
– 1/Lt Masajiro Tsunabuchi
71st Casualty Clearing Platoon
– 1/Lt Jitsaji Sugimoto
118th Rear Hospital
– Maj Rokuro Kasahara

Units Under Tactical Command of the 28th Army
11th Shipping Group
– Maj Gen Gisaburo Suzuki
11th Shipping Engineer Regiment (*)
– Lt Col Takashi Ishimura
3rd Sea Transport Battalion
22nd Provisional Water Transport Service Company
38th Water Transport Service Company
Southwestern Branch, Burma Area Army Field Provisional Depot
Southwestern Branch, Burma Area Army Field Ordnance Depot
Southwestern Branch, Burma Area Army Field Motor Depot
Southwestern Branch, 21st Rear Veterinary Hospital
Elements or the 106th Rear Hospital
101st Carpenter Company
93rd Land Transport Service Company
Elements or the 22nd Field Water Supply Purification Unit

(*) The 11th Shipping Engineer Regiment was composed of a Hq, 3 companies and 1 materiel depot with a total of 1105 men, and the £following vessels :

– Large landing barges – 85
– Small landing barges – 54
– Motored Sampans – 47
– Armored Boats – 2
– Fishing Boats (60 Ton Class) – 10
– Messenger Boat – 1
– Speed Boat – 1

Disposition or 28th Army Units – Early 1944
The zone of responsibility assigned to the 28th Army was southwestern Burma from Rangoon north to Maungdaw along the west coast and extending inland to the Arakan and Pegu Mountain Ranges. At the time of its organization the only portion of the Army’s front actually facing the enemy was a 50 mile strip from Maungdaw northeast to Thayettabin. Along the Bay of Bengal it was responsible for a coastal front of 400 miles which, with the many islands adjacent to the coast, was vulnerable to an enemy seaborne attack. The Arakan Mountains, however, offered protection against attack from the northeast. Also within the operational area of the Army was the Irrawaddy Delta, one of the world’s great rice producing centers. Since the First Arakan Operation, the 55th Division had been facing the enemy on the front north of Akyab, with its main strength deployed on the Mayu Peninsula and some units in the Kaladan River Basin. The 54th Division had been assigned the defense of the long coastal strip extending from Ruywa south to the mouths of the Irrawaddy River since the latter part of 1943. The 2nd Division had been in the process of moving from Malaya to Burma since January 1 1944. The 11th Shipping Group was stationed at Taungup with the principal supply depots being located at Prome. At the time or the activation of the 28th Army, the 54th and 55th Divisions were in position and by the end of February the main force of the 2nd Division had arrived in southwestern Burma. Since the 28th Army did not wish to disturb the status quo by making radical and sudden changes, a gradual re-disposition of troops to conform with the Army’s tactical strategic plans was effected.

One or the highest priority projects on the Army’s agenda was the construction of defense positions and no effort was spared in rushing them to completion. As neither cement nor steel were available locally or through supply channels, defense positions consisted primarily or crude earthworks. Since there was no radar and only limited assistance could be expected from naval and air units, the army was forced to rely on sentries posted along the coast for production of intelligence on enemy activities and movements. With some revisions, the commander of the 28th Army approved the 55th Division plans for the launching of the Northern Arakan Operation. In view or the enemy’s numerically superior strength he felt it would be extremely hazardous for the main body of the Division to effect a penetration as far as Bawli Bazar. Further, in the event that the operation did not progress as expected, the Division might encounter difficulties that would prejudice the over-all operations or the 28th Army. Accordingly, the Army commander established a line running east and west through Taung Bazar as the northern limits of the operation. Any advance north of that line would be subject to his prior approval. With these revisions the commander ordered the operation to commence any time on or after February 4. In mid-January the 55th Division had begun regrouping for the offensive : the 55th Reconnaissance Regiment was moved to the Kaladan Valley to replace the 1/213th Regiment; the 144th Infantry Regiment (less the 3rd battalion) was dispatched to the west coast to replace the 112th Infantry, and the main combat elements of the Division began assembling at Kindaung as the assault column. Preparations were well in hand to start the offensive about the middle of February.

(Above) Indian Army troops inspect a dead Japanese soldier, Burma 1945. (Bellow) Colonised brothers : Nigerian and Indian soldiers during the Burma Campaign of World War II.

Japanese Task Force Organization
The 55th Division was divided into several Task Force Units to perform the various actions required by the Ha-Go Operation plan :

Sakurai Unit
Commander, Maj Gen T. Sakurai (*), CG, 55th Infantry Group
– Headquarters 55th Infantry Group
– 112th Infantry Regiment (less 1 Rifle Co and 1 MG PLat)
– 2/143rd Infantry regiment (less 5th Co and 1 MG Plat)
– 1/213th Infantry Regiment (less 1st and 3rd Cos and 1 MG Plat)
– 3/55th Mountain Arty Regiment (4 mt guns and 4 mortars)
– 55th Engineer Regiment (less 1 and 1/2 Cos)
– One Plat, 10th River Crossing Material Co
– One Squad, Armorer Unit
– Med Battalion (-)
– One Wireless Squad, Division Signal Unit
– One Plat, Water Supply Unit
(*) Not to be confused with Lt Gen S. Sakurai, CG, 28th Army

Doi Unit
Commander, Col Doi, CO, 143rd Infantry Regiment
– 143rd Infantry Regiment (- 2nd Bn)
– 4th Mountain Battery (2 mt guns)
– One Plat, 55th Engineer Regiment
– One Sect, Medical Battalion
– One Squad, Water Supply Unit

Yoshida Unit
Commander, Col Yoshida, CO, 144th Infantry Regiment
– 144th Infantry Regiment (less 2nd and 3rd Bns)
– 14th AT Battalion (- 3rd Btry) (8 AT Guns 37-MM)
– 3rd Co, 55th Recon Regiment (11 tanks)
– 1/55th Mountain Arty (3 mt guns)
– Comp Btry (5 mt guns and 1 field gun)
– One Sect, Medical battalion
– One Squad, Water Supply Unit

Kawashima Unit
Commander, Col Kawashima, CO, 55th Recon Regiment
– 55th Recon Regiment (- 3rd Co)

Koba Unit
Commander Col Koba, CO, 111th Infantry Regiment
– 111th Infantry Regiment (- 2nd and 3rd Bns)
– 3/144th Infantry regiment
– 2/54th Field Arty

Division Reserve
– 2/144th Infantry Regiment

Artillery
Commander, Lt Col Kobayashi, CO, 55th Mountain Arty Regiment
– 55th Mountain Arty Regiment (- 1st and 3rd Bns)(5 mt guns)
– 2nd Btry, 3rd Heavy FAR (3 How 149-MM)

Transport
Commander, Col Sei, CO, 55th Transport Regiment
– 55th Transport Regiment (- 3rd Co)
– 3rd Co, 11th Shipping Engineer Regiment
– 1st and 3rd Cos, 51st Transport Battalion
– 26th Ponton Company
– 22nd Water Transport Service Company (Prov)
– One Plat, 10th River Crossing Material Company
– Sea Transport Company

Division Troops
– Division Signal Unit (- 1 Wireless Squad)
– Armorer Unit (- 1 Squad)
– Water Supply Unit (- elms)
– 1st, 2nd and 4th Field Hospitals
– Veterinary Hospital
– One Plat, 101st Carp Company
– 3rd Co and 1 MG Plat, 213th Infantry Regiment

(Above) The Campaign in North and Central Burma February 1944 – August 1945. A well armed patrol of American led Burmese guerrillas crossing a river in central Burma. (Bellow) This group of BIC (Bruma Intelligence Corps) men served with Orde Wingate’s LRPG (Long Range Penetration Groups) at Imphal and Kohima, sadly not many names are known. Known men are Ronald Kenneth Willson; Malcolm Taylor sitting front left and Albert Terry sitting front right.

1 COMMENT

  1. I am really sorry about the fact that I didn’t publish American Equipments with this great archive but meanwhile I keep asking Veterans and or Veterans relatives for donation I still have nothing from this area. Sorry but I do always my best but there I am lost.
    Gunter (Doc Snafu)

    Maybe one day I’ll get something to share with the EUCMH Readers but right now …. I don’t have a single button !

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