7th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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IJA 7th Division (第7師団 Dai-nana Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was the Bear Division (熊兵団 Kuma-heidan?).

History[edit]

The 7th Division was formed in Sapporo, Hokkaidō on 12 May 1888, as the first new infantry division to be created after the reorganization of the Imperial Japanese Army away from six regional commands and into a divisional command structure. The reorganization was recommended by Prussian military advisor Jakob Meckel. It was responsible for the defence of Hokkaidō, which it divided into four operational areas (Sapporo, Hakodate, Asahikawa and Kushiro). As one of the projects of the Japanese government was to encourage the settlement of Hokkaidō by ex-soldiers, the 7th Division was over-strength, and contained many soldiers originally from other areas of Japan.

Declared combat-ready too late for the First Sino-Japanese War, the 7th Division saw combat during the Russo-Japanese War, where it was assigned to the Siege of Port Arthur, and later to the Battle of Mukden. Assigned to Manchuria from 1917-1919, it also participated in the Siberian Intervention.

It was reassigned to Manchuria from 1934, and was a component of the Japanese forces at the disastrous Battle of Nomonhon.

In 1942, despite its specialization in Arctic warfare, the 28th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division, under the command of Kiyonao Ichiki was assigned to occupy Midway in the central Pacific. After the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway, which caused the cancellation of the invasion of Midway, the regiment was on its way back to Japan when it was rerouted to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August. At Guadalcanal, the regiment took heavy casualties during the Battle of the Tenaru and the Battle of Edson's Ridge. Of the 2500 men who were sent to the Guadalcanal campaign, only 140 returned alive to Japan.

The remainder of the Division remained as the Hokkaidō garrison throughout the Pacific War, and was disbanded with the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Army at the war's end.

Some of the more noteworthy commanders of the 7th DIvision included Nagayama Takeshiro, Ueda Arisawa, Uehara Yusaku, Watanabe Jotaro, and Osami Okiie.

Organization[edit]

The initial Order of Battle for the IJA 7th Division included:

IJA 7th Division

  • 13th Infantry Brigade
    • 25th Infantry Regiment
    • 26th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
  • 14th Infantry Brigade
    • 27th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
    • 28th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
  • 7th Cavalry Regiment
  • 7th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 7th Engineering Regiment
  • 7th Transportation Regiment

In 1940, the 7th Division was reorganized into a triangular division:

IJA 7th Division

  • 7th Infantry Brigade
    • 26th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
    • 27th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
    • 28th Infantry Regiment (Asahikawa)
  • 7th Cavalry Regiment
  • 7th Mountain Artillery Regiment
  • 7th Engineering Regiment
  • 7th Transportation Regiment

See also[edit]

Reference and further reading[edit]

  • Madej, W. Victor (1981). Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937–1945. Allentown, PA: Game Publishing Company. OCLC 8930220. 
  • United States War Department; David Isby (Introduction) and Jeffrey Ethell (Afterword) (1991) [1944]. Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-2013-8.