17th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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17th Division
Clubhouse in Okayama Prefectural Multipurpose Grounds.JPG
For IJA 17th Division Officer’s Club, Okayama
Active 13 November 1907 – 1 May 1925
4 April 1938 - 1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Okayama, Japan
Nickname Moon Division
Engagements Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II

The 17th Division (第17師団 Dai-Jū Nana Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Moon Division (月兵団 Getsu-heidan?).


First establishment[edit]

The 17th Division was one of two infantry divisions newly raised by the Imperial Japanese Army immediately after the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). The division received its colors on 13 November 1907. Its original headquarters was in a suburb of the city of Okayama, and its troops were recruited primarily from communities in the three prefectures of Okayama, Hirohima, and Shimane. On 4 March 1908, its headquarters was transferred to rural Mitsu District, Okayama (now part of the city of Okayama). The first commander of the division was Lieutenant General Ichinohe Hyoe.

On 18 March 1915, the headquarters of the division moved to a more central location in Okayama city. However, on 26 March 1915 it was ordered to Liaoyang in Manchuria as a garrison force, where it remained for two years.

However, in 1925, the 17th Division was one of the four division dissolved by Minister of War Ugaki Kazushige as part of a cost-saving measure during the Kato Takaaki administration.

Second establishment[edit]

The 17th Division was resurrected in April 1938 as a triangular division with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As part of the China Expeditionary Army it was deployed to the Chinese mainland, and participated in the Battle of Wuhan. The division was recalled to Japan in July 1940.

With the Pacific War, the 17th Division was assigned to the Southern Expeditionary Army Group in 1943, and was transferred to New Britain in the Solomon Islands under command of the 8th Area Army headquartered in Rabaul. Approximately one-third of its forces (the HQ staff and IJA 81st Infantry Regiment) were stationed on neighboring Bougainville Island. In July 1944, the Bouganville-based forces were reorganized into the new IJA 38th Combined Brigade. The remainder of the division, under the command of Lieutenant General Iwao Matsuda fought at the Battle of Cape Gloucester and the Battle of New Britain. Its survivors surrendered on New Britain to Allied forces with the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

See also[edit]


  • Hough, Frank O., and John A. Crown (1952). "The Campaign on New Britain". USMC Historical Monograph. Historical Division, Division of Public Information, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 24 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  • Miller, John, Jr. (1959). "CARTWHEEL: The Reduction of Rabaul". United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific. Office of the Chief of Military History, U.S. Department of the Army. p. 418. Retrieved October 20, 2006. * Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981