23rd Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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23rd Division
Active 1938 - 1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Kumamoto, Japan
Nickname "Sunrise Division"
Engagements Battle of Nomonhan
Pacific War

The 23rd Division (第23師団 Dai-nijūsan Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was the Sunrise Division (旭兵団 Kyokuhei-dan?).


The 23rd Division was formed in Kumamoto on 4 April 1938 as the first reserve division for the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The 23rd Division was almost immediately sent to the northern frontier of Manchukuo, where it replaced a cavalry brigade on garrison duties in Hailar (in what is now part of Inner Mongolia). The 23rd Division was thus the primary Japanese division involved in the subsequent Battle of Nomonhan against the Soviet Union's Red Army from May – September 1939. In this campaign, which was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese army, the 23rd Division suffered from 11,958 men killed, or about 80% of its combat strength, including most of its regimental commanders. Commanding General Michitaro Komatsubara was recalled to Japan in disgrace.

The remnants of the 23rd Division returned to Japan, and were assigned to assist the No.8 Border Defense Force (the future IJA 119th Division) in 1940. In 1944, by then back up to strength, the 23rd Division was reassigned to garrison duties in Taiwan.

However, with the situation in the Philippines against the United States in the Pacific War becoming ever more precarious, the 23rd Division was reassigned to Luzon, under control of the Japanese 14th Area Army. It suffered heavy losses when the convoy transporting it (Convoy HI-81) was attacked in mid-November 1944. It arrived just in time to engage in combat against the Americans during the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf. At this battle, and in subsequent combat against the combined American and Philippine Commonwealth armed forces during the Battle of Luzon through March 1945, the 23rd Division suffered 24,508 killed in combat, out of a total strength of 29,636 men. The 23rd Division effectively ceased to exist after the Battle of Luzon.[1]


The original Order of Battle of the IJA 23rd Division included:

  • 23rd Infantry Brigade Group:
    • 64th Infantry Regiment (Kumamoto)
    • 71st Infantry Regiment (Kagoshima)
    • 72nd Infantry Regiment (Miyokonojo)
  • 23rd Reconnaissance Regiment
    • Cavalry Troop
    • Tankette Company
  • 13th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 23rd Engineer Regiment
  • 23rd Transport Regiment

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Madej, W. Victor, Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981