14th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
Fortifications of Peleliu Island constructed by the 14th Division
|Active||1905 - 1944|
|Country||Empire of Japan|
|Branch||Imperial Japanese Army|
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
|Tsuchiya Mitsuharu, Samejima Shigeo, Uehara Yusaku, Suzuki Takao, Hata Shunroku, Kenji Doihara|
The 14th Division was one of four new infantry divisions raised by the Imperial Japanese Army in the closing stages of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). With Japan's resources strained to the breaking point towards the end of that conflict, the entire Imperial Japanese Army was committed to combat in Manchuria, leaving not a single division to guard the Japanese home islands in case of attack. The 14th Division was initially established in Kokura (present-day Kitakyushu, Fukuoka) under the command of Lieutenant General Tsuchiya Mitsuharu, with men recruited from Osaka, Zentsūji, Kagawa, Hiroshima and Kumamoto. It was the only one of the four emergency divisions raised that was considered combat-ready (albeit still severely understrength) prior to the end of the war. It was dispatched to the front in August 1905, where it joined General Nogi Maresuke's IJA Third Army. However, it arrived too late to see any combat, and was assigned policing duties in the Japanese-occupied Liaodong Peninsula and along the South Manchurian Railway. It was replaced by the IJA 10th Division in 1906, and was withdrawn to Himeji, Hyōgo.
In September 1907 the divisional headquarters was established in what is now the city of Utsunomiya, Tochigi, and its composition totally reorganized. The IJA 53rd Infantry Regiment was transferred to the IJA 16th Division in Kyoto and the IJA 54th Infantry Regiment was transferred to the newly created IJA 17th Division based in Okayama. The IJA 55th Infantry Regiment and IJA 56th Infantry Regiments were transferred to the newly created IJA 18th Division, based in Kurume, Fukuoka. In place of these units, the division gained the Sakura-based IJA 2nd Infantry Regiment (later relocated to Mito, Ibaraki), and the Narashino-based IJA 59th Infantry Regiment (later relocated to Utsunomiya), as well as the Takasaki-based IJA 15th Infantry Regiment and the newly created Utsunomiya-based IJA 66th Infantry Regiment.
Siberia and Manchuria
In April 1918, the 14th Division was one of the Japanese divisions earmarked for the Japanese intervention in Siberia. In May 1920, the 3rd Battalion of the IJA 2nd Infantry Regiment stationed at Nikolayevsk-on-Amur was massacred by Bolshevik irregulars in what came to be known as the Nikolaevsk Incident (尼港事件 Niko Jiken?).
In 1925, the IJA 66th Infantry Regiment was disbanded, and replaced by the Matsumoto-based IJA 50th Infantry Regiment. The 14th Division was deployed to Ryojun in the Kwantung Leased Territory in April 1927. Units from the division were deployed to Jinan and Tsingtao in 1928 in the aftermath of the Jinan Incident. The 14th Division returned to Japan in 1929.
In 1932, the 14th Division was again deployed to Manchuria under the aegis of the Kwantung Army and was involved in the First Shanghai Incident. It also participated in the March 1932 Mukden Incident. Its IJA 2nd Infantry Regiment also participated in the Battle of Rehe. The 14th Division was withdrawn back to Japan in 1934.
Second Sino-Japanese War
With the outbreak of general hostilities in the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the 14th Division under the command of Lieutenant General Kenji Doihara was reassigned to the Northern China Area Army theater of operations and as part of the IJA 1st Army participated in the Beiping–Hankou Railway Operation, and the campaign of Northern and Eastern Honan where it was involved in the Battle of Lanfeng.
The 14th Division was withdrawn to Japan in early 1939, but sent to Qiqihar in Manchukuo later the same year as to serve as a garrison force. In August 1939, the division was re-organized into a triangular division, with the IJA 50th Infantry Regiment transferred to the IJA 29th Division. The long stay of the 14th Division in Manchukuo led its troops to become very familiar and fond of the local specialty, fried Jiaozi, known in Japanese as gyōza. As the troops from the 14th Division were from Utsunomiya, they took this dish home with them, and Utsunomiya is famous throughout Japan to this day for its gyōza.
In 1942, the 14th Division returned to Japan. At that time, its 50th Infantry Regiment was reassigned to the IJA 29th Division. In August 1942, the remainder of the 14th Division was sent back to Manchukuo, and assigned to garrison duty.
As the situation in the Pacific War against the United States continued to deteriorate, the Supreme War Council began transferring forces out of Manchukuo to the southern operational areas. The 14th Division under the command of Lieutenant General Sadae Inoue was assigned to Palau, with its 2nd Infantry Regiment sent to the island of Peleliu, and one battalion of its 29th Infantry Regiment stationed on the island of Angaur. The subsequent Battle of Peleliu and Battle of Angaur were among the bloodiest of the Pacific War. At Angaur, 1338 of the 1400 defenders were killed, and at Peleliu, 10,695 of the 11,000 defenders perished. The 14th Division effectively ceased to exist with these battles.
Reference and further reading
- Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 2 vol. Allentown, PA; 1981
- Gutman, Anatoly. Ella Lury Wiswell (trans.); Richard A. Pierce (ed.) The Destruction of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, An Episode in the Russian Civil War in the Far East, 1920. Limestone Press (1993). ISBN 0-919642-35-7
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Leyte: June 1944 - Jan 1945, vol. 12 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-58317-0.
- Anderson, Charles R. Western Pacific. The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-29.
-  The Japan Times August 9, 2009