Admiral Kiyohide Shima
|Born||25 February 1890
Miyazaki prefecture, Japan
|Died||7 November 1973(aged 83)|
|Allegiance||Empire of Japan|
|Service/branch||Imperial Japanese Navy|
|Years of service||1911-1945|
|Commands held||Ōi, Maizuru Naval District, Tulagi Invasion Force, IJN 5th Fleet, 1st Air Fleet, Takao Guard District|
|Awards||Order of the Rising Sun (4th class)
Order of the Sacred Treasure (2nd class)
A native of Miyazaki prefecture, Shima was a graduate of the 39th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1911, ranking 69th out of 148 cadets. AS a midshipman, he served aboard the cruisers Aso and Hashidate and the battleship Aki. As an ensign, he was assigned to the battleship Iwami, and as a sub-lieutenant, he served on the battlecruiser Ibuki, and cruiser Katori.
Shima was promoted to lieutenant in 1918, and after taking courses in torpedo warfare and navigation, was assigned as Chief Communications Officer on the battlecruiser Kirishima. In 1921, he graduated from the Naval War College and was promoted to lieutenant commander.
In 1925–1926, Shima was appointed aide-de-camp to HIH Prince Takamatsu Nobuhito, concurrently serving on the battleships Nagato and Fusō. In 1928–1929, he was sent to the United States and Europe. On his return, he served in a number of staff positions, primarily as an instructor at various naval ordnance schools.
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 23–26 October 1944, Shima led the "Second Striking Force" of three cruisers and seven destroyers in the Battle of Surigao Strait. Vice-Admiral Shōji Nishimura′s and Vice-Admiral Shima′s fleets were collectively called the "Southern Force". Because of the strict radio silence imposed on the forces, Shima was unable to synchronize his movements with those of Nishimura′s. Shima′s force—two heavy cruisers, a light cruiser and four destroyers—reached the battle after Nishimura′s forces had run into a deadly trap and suffered losses. During the nighttime battle, Shima fired 16 torpedoes at two islands he mistook for American ships. Then, seeing what he thought were the wrecks of both Nishimura′s battleships (actually the two halves of the wrecked Fusō), he ordered a retreat, "At that time, things flashed in my head were thus: ... If we continued dashing further north, it was quite clear that we should only fall into a ready trap." Retreating, his flagship, the heavy cruiser Nachi, collided with Nishimura′s heavy cruiser Mogami, flooding the latter′s steering-room. Mogami fell behind in the retreat and was sunk by aircraft the next morning.
After this disaster, Shima was re-assigned to command the Takao Guard District from 10 May 1945 to 30 November 1945. From 10 May to 15 June 1945, he was also final commander of the First Air Fleet.
In 1959, in response to a letter from 16-year old Bill Frazer of San Fernando, California, Shima defended his actions and performance in the Battle of Surigao Strait. In particular, Shima found fault with historian James A. Field Jr who, in reference to the utter defeat of Japanese forces in the battle, referred to Shima as "the buffoon of the tragedy."
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