41st Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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41st Division
Active 1939–45
Country Empire of Japan
Branch  Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Yongsan District
Nickname(s) River Division
Engagements Second Sino-Japanese War
New Guinea campaign
Moritake Tanabe, Shimizu Tsunenori, Heisuke Abe

The 41st Division (第41師団, Dai-yonjūichi Shidan) was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the River Division (河兵団, Kawa Heidan)

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 41st Division was raised as a triangular division on 30 June 1939 in Yongsan District, Korea, simultaneously with 38th, 39th and 40th Divisions. On 2 October 1939, the 41st Division under the command of Lieutenant General Moritake Tanabe was assigned to 1st Army in North China.[1] Initial deployment was to Shanxi province to provide a garrison coverage.

Upon the outbreak of the Pacific War on 7 December 1941, the division was based in Qingdao in eastern China, under the command of Shimizu Tsunenori.[2]

In November 1942 the division, under the command of Lieutenant General Heisuke Abe, was scheduled to be deployed to Guadalcanal.[3] However, after attempts to reinforce the Japanese garrison on the island failed, the decision was made to divert the 41st Division, along with the 20th Division, which was being shipped from Korea at the same time, and land them on New Guinea. Consequently, the 41st Division arrived at Wewak on 12 February 1943,[3] where they were attached to the 18th Army and subsequently took part in the New Guinea campaign throughout 1943–45, fighting against Australian and United States forces. At this time, Shoge Detachment was sent to fortify positions at Lae, eventually participating in Salamaua–Lae campaign together with 51st Division. By 10 July 1944, the 18th Army was reduced to essentially 41st Division, fighting a failed offensive in Battle of Driniumor River in July 1944 and suffering heavy casualties in the process. The remnants of the 41st Division have retreated to Prince Alexander Mountains and has a heavy loss of life due malnutrition and disease before the war ended with surrender of Japan 15 August 1945.[2]


  1. ^ a b "41 Division (Japan)". Axis History Factbook. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Budge, Kent G. "Japanese Order of Battle, Part 1". The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Tanaka 1980, p. 48


  • Tanaka, Kengoro (1980). Operations of the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces in the Papua New Guinea Theater During World War II. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Papua New Guinea Goodwill Society. OCLC 9206229. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Madej, Victor (1981). Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937–1945. Allentown, PA: Game Publishing Company. OCLC 8930220.