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See Also: A Castaway's Diary

"Extracts from Diaries" from Intelligence Bulletin, February 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following extracts from WWII Japanese diaries were published in the Intelligence Bulletin, February 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



These extracts are presented primarily to show how the Japanese react to our attacks, and to give their version of the results we have obtained. The names of the Japanese who have written these diaries have been omitted. The extracts are presented in the order of their dates; each subsection represents a different diary.


"April 18.--...Enemy planes dropped bombs and strafed us with machine-gun fire. Our antiaircraft guns and machine guns fired fiercely but were unable to score. Three planes pursued them and disappeared in the volcanic smoke. After that, looking toward the west pier, a cloud of dark black smoke was rising. The blaze looked dreadful. Looking carefully at the blaze, the mast of a ship could be seen directly in front. So I knew, for the first time, that the ship (navy transport ship Komaki Maru, 8,500 tons) had been hit by a bomb. In a little while, a truck with many casualties came to my post and inquired the way to the hospital.

"After returning to the tent, I listened to stories from each sentry who had returned. The ship had arrived yesterday, loaded with many bombs and much ammunition, and was to have been unloaded this morning. At about 1100 hours, the entire ship was wrapped in flames. The ammunition exploded violently, and it was dangerous even to approach the vicinity. All the ships that were near changed their anchorage. Since it would not do to leave it a target for enemy aircraft, the patrol ships and cruisers which were staying in the harbor fired upon the burning ship to sink it, but their projectiles could not hit below the water line because they were so close. The noise caused by the explosion of the projectiles and the rise of flames sky-high in the darkness made a gruesome scene. Even after all of us had prepared for bed, there was noise and vibration that seemed to crumble heaven and earth. Perhaps this was the explosion of the ship's magazine.... For the first time, the mighty force of the bomb was known.

"At this place, there are, it is believed, approximately 9,000 prisoners. They must all be very happy after seeing today's bombings. Among them there were some who clapped their hands. All the members of my unit who heard this agreed that it was better to kill them off one after another.... However, if we changed places and were in their position, we might also be as happy as they. I guess it is natural to be happy. And yet, knowing that the prisoners were happy, I presume it is natural to say 'Finish them off'."

(Marginal note.) "The stern of the ship exploded and sank. Just the tip part of the ship remained above the water. A little after 1900 hours, there was a great reverberation. Probably the big bombs which were loaded on the stern exploded all at once. Immediately platoons No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 assembled their emergency unit members. We fell in immediately and climbed into the cars in groups. It appeared that fire from the ship had spread to the warehouse, which was on the right bank. Upon going there, we saw that burning fragments from the explosion had dropped on the warehouse. All at once, the situation was critical, because there were considerable provisions and ammunition within, and all around the vicinity there were mountains of all kinds of gasoline and oil. The ammunition exploded repeatedly, fuel fires flared up, and the area was a sea of flames

"The crude oil that surged up from the hold spread on the sea surface and burned furiously. Furthermore, the wind fanned the flames. The disastrous scene was gruesome and indescribable. Many times, I have seen pictures in the news of bombed and exploding oil tanks, but actually to see it is a horror utterly beyond imagination.

"April 19.--Just as I was thinking of gaining some much-needed sleep last night, I was asked to go on fatigue duty for No. 4 Company, so I hopped on a vehicle and hurried to the company area. At the place, one of the barracks was blown in half. The soldiers carried their government issue articles, personal belongings, and various kinds of weapons and arms to the material storeroom. When I went to the destroyed place, the trees and leaves were in fragments. Below was a big pool of blood...

"The company commander and platoon commander gave orders, one after another. However, it seems as though everyone's face had forgotten how to smile. For a while, each one seemed to have forgotten the work, and, without a word, just stared. After being scolded by the platoon commander, they started to work silently. It was the work of cleaning up the debris. Even the injured worked.

"The badly wounded were said to have died... Two died instantly. One barely lived on the way to the hospital and died. Without a doubt, life is beyond determination. Thus, it is probably quite regrettable to die now without killing even one enemy. They probably did not die happily. This also is fate..."


"June 11.--In the afternoon, while wearing full equipment, we practiced sliding down rope ladders in preparation for landing operations. Reduced the time for completing the operation from 2 minutes on the first attempt to 1 minute on the second try."


"Aug. 13.--Natives brought us nine Australian prisoners--five men, three women, and one child.

"Aug. 14.--About 0800 hours, we decapitated or shot the nine prisoners."


"Aug. 24.--Our plan to capture Guadalcanal Island came unavoidably to a standstill, due to the appearance of the enemy striking force. In order to give quick assistance to our men and officers, and to stimulate the morale of the Imperial Forces and the national prestige, also because of the fact that it is a very important place for our Imperial Forces, it was decided that the attempt to capture will be carried out tomorrow, the 25th. Disregarding the enemy air attacks, we advanced straight ahead, crossing the equator to the South Pacific Ocean. Today we had three enemy air attacks but suffered no damage. Moreover, the uneasiness of voyages and escort was greatly reduced with the reinforcement of our light cruisers. It added to our display of power.

"Aug. 25.--Six enemy planes attacked our convoy at 0605 hours, while officers and men were smoking and resting on the top deck after a hasty breakfast. The first bomb scored a direct hit on the flagship Jintsu. Her bridge was in flames. We were ordered to the upper crew's quarters, but our ship also suffered a direct hit on the bridge. I escaped to a corner of the crew's mess hall. Though I lost control of myself because of the fire caused by the explosion, I only sought for a safe spot. That short and fierce bombing has caused great confusion on the top deck; I still fear an aerial attack. The fierce fires increased greatly in the interior of the ship, and all members prepared the metallic raft. Fearing an explosion in the ammunition stores, they drifted quickly away toward the South Seas.

"Although our men and officers were rescued by patrol boats from the convoy and felt relieved for a while, the enemy attacked us again. They bombed our convoy but we escaped. We who have been through these attacks can scarcely believe that we have survived such fearful and difficult experiences.

"Our casualties were great. The Kinryu Maru received two direct hits and sank. Observing this gave me a feeling of deep emotion. For the Landing Party, August 25 was one of the most dangerous days and must be remembered as our resurrection day."


"Sept. 2.--Stuck fast in the jungle. Our unit could do nothing. In the afternoon, one enemy light cruiser and one transport came brazenly into port during broad daylight. Evidently they brought troop reinforcements. At night there were many hits from the enemy trench mortars. We at the front realized this was the end and made up our minds for death.

"Sept. 3.--The situation became worse. We retreated with our telegraph set. On this date, it seems that the front-line units were completely annihilated before noon."


Sept. 20.--While we were marching, enemy planes dropped bombs in the rear and then machine-gunned us. After this the planes attacked us without a let-up.

"Sept. 21.--Day of rest to ready for the trip back. Thirty-six men out of 238 have malaria.

"Sept. 22.--The enemy has 40,000 troops, mostly Australians. For that reason their fighting power is great. On account of the second Coral Sea battle, our Navy is unable to carry out a landing at Port Moresby. We must wait until about November before another force is organized. There is no replenishment of the food supply, which is enough for only one more day. A food detail went out today, but 7 to 9 days will pass before their return. What to do for the men and patients is a serious problem. We have no medicine for malaria, wounds, and colds. Patients merely wait for death, or for natural healing."

Sept. 25.--When on the way to attack Guadalcanal, on the Kinryu Maru, a great fire was started by enemy aircraft. Twenty were killed and several wounded.

"Sept. 29.--As if waiting for the day to come, the enemy planes circled overhead, looking for people to strafe. It is very fierce and the soldiers can do nothing about it. The strafing planes come 6 or 7 times during the day, so our troops suffered considerably. We are awaiting the end of daylight on the 29th. This is our very last general attack. At first we were able, to our surprise, to advance, but as we neared the enemy airdrome, the counterattack became as violent as death.

"The enemy uses light and heavy machine guns and various modern weapons.

"The enemy's camouflage is truly efficient. We have found it hard to discover the enemy, and have suffered unexpected losses. At over 500 meters (nearly 550 yds.) his camouflage cannot be distinguished, and great care must be taken. Training against camouflage should also be carried out.

"Heavy enemy shelling greatly affects morale, and sometimes troops will not fight as they should. The effect is still more marked when it results in casualties. Unit commanders must strive to stimulate morale, and be careful of their own action and attitude. (At such times the men always watch the expression of their commander's face.)

"When under enemy fire, there is a tendency to fire light and heavy machine guns at random, without looking at the target. The commander must strictly maintain fire discipline.

"Grenade throwers are most effective in striking terror into the enemy. However, a disadvantage is that their range is only 250 meters (about 275 yds.), and so there are few opportunities of using them.

"Before going into action, succession of command must always be clearly indicated. Unless this succession is defined right down to the last soldier, and training carried out until this becomes practically automatic, fighting may become confused if the unit commander becomes a casualty. When the unit commander is killed or wounded, the effect on the personnel is extremely great, and morale tends to decline. On the other hand, even if one man after another is killed, and the situation is tragic, if the men see their commander's face full of vigor, their courage increases a hundred-fold.

"Patrols must not return the enemy's fire. Some patrols have penetrated an enemy position until they heard voices, and although eventually challenged and fired upon, have kept themselves hidden and carried out their mission. Some of the enemy understand the Japanese language. Take care not to be deceived by the call 'Dare Ka?' (Who goes there?)"


"Oct. 6.--After reporting to the unit commander, I talked with the adjutant and obtained much information. It seems that the unit will depart tomorrow night to occupy the enemy advance position. Before and after the departure many caught fever. Many officers in the regimental headquarters and the battalion headquarters died of fever. There are 20-odd patients in our company. In the platoon, 13 persons were overcome by fever and only 35 persons remained healthy. This is a 1/3 decrease in strength. The sickness is more dreadful than enemy bullets.

"Oct. 7.--Last night we started the advance and arrived at Matanikau River. And, we are engaging in the defense on the left bank area after relieving the 12th Company of the OKA Unit. Early this morning enemy planes circled above us on reconnaissance. In the afternoon, there were fierce gun fires from the enemy artillery, and bombing and machine-gun fires from the enemy planes. We had many casualties.

"Oct. 8.--The bombing from the enemy planes was continued until dark. I talked with the unit commander and decided to stay in the present area. In the morning it was the same as yesterday, but there also was fierce enemy bombings during clear-weather periods in the afternoon. By the battalion order, we decided to retreat, and we carried out the tragic retreat.

"Oct. 9.--The 1st Company also carried out the retreat from a hill. We assembled our strength in the position of the battalion headquarters. The shells from enemy trench mortars dropped in the center of the troop concentrations, and we fell into confusion. As contradictions occurred successively in the division order, the detachment order, and the regiment order, we suspended the night attack upon the agreement of Unit Commander Tamuma and Unit Commander Unoi, and endeavored to concentrate the troops. The shells from the enemy trench mortar dropped near us, and there were many casualties."


"Oct. 12.--The enemy planes appeared in the vicinity of the Hameawa (River), but there was no bombing. The gun fires from the enemy were rare. Many soldiers fear the enemy gun fire and the morale of the soldiers is very poor.

"Oct. 20.--I am recovering from sickness. I rested all day today. After experimentation for 1 month, we invented the smokeless fuel. (This is probably composed largely of alcohol.)

"The Kuma Unit, of the Ichiki Unit, met with the remnant. They were all very thin due to lack of food. They were eating only coconuts and grasses for one whole month and living in the jungle.

"Oct. 8.--The 2d Company, which was sent out to meet the 3d Company, encountered the enemy at the Matanikau River line and nothing has been heard of it since.

"Oct. 10.--The enemy which is confronting the 3d Battalion totals 2,000 to 3,000 and are taking a formation to envelop the battalion. The 3d Battalion is constantly withdrawing. The 3d machine-gun unit with their leader (16 men in all) and the battalion-gun unit all left their weapons behind and withdrew."

"Nov. 6.--It rains very heavily out here. It has been raining continuously since last night. The epidemic of sickness seems almost incredible. It seems like half of the neighboring field artillery unit has the beri-beri and diarrhea. During the morning we worked on air raid shelters in the rain. Raining, no water, the kindling does not burn!--the hardships of the soldiers are beyond their power.

"Nov. 14.--At the end of the day, after being observed by enemy patrol planes in the early morning, we were attacked by them. They dropped 3 bombs in the 1st round, 2 in the 2d, and 2 in the 3d round. Our planes, which were usually escorting us, did not happen to be there at that time. The conditions were pitiful after the attack was over. Only 4 ships remained as we continued on our course and reached our objective. Determination to make the landing was felt by all on our 4 depot ships. We are determined firmly to fight and avenge our soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Solomon Sea."


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