6th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
IJA 23rd Infantry Regiment 2nd Battalion seizing Shāshì city, 8 June 1940
|Country||Empire of Japan|
|Branch||Imperial Japanese Army|
|Garrison/HQ||Kumamoto City, Japan|
|Engagements||First Sino-Japanese War
|Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa, Kuroki Tamemoto, Ōkubo Haruno, Akashi Motojiro, and Sadao Araki|
The 6th Division was formed in Kumamoto City on 12 May 1888, as one of the new divisions to be created after the reorganization of the Imperial Japanese Army away from six regional commands and into a divisional command structure, as per the recommendations of the Prussian military advisor Jakob Meckel to the Japanese government. Its troops were drawn primarily from the southern prefectures of Kyūshū.
It participated in combat during the First Sino-Japanese War at the Battle of Weihaiwei. In the Russo-Japanese War it has participated in the Battle of Shaho under the command of the 2nd army and in the Battle of Mukden under the command of the 4th army. 29 April 1910 the divisional headquarters building was demolished, and new building was assigned temporarily in Kumamoto Kaikosha 22 June 1916 until new building on the grounds of Kumamoto Castle was received 5 April 1917.
In 1923, it was assigned to garrison duty in Manchuria. The 6th division have returned to Kyushu in 1925, and sent a detachments to participate in the Jinan Incident in 1928. Returned to China in the aftermath of the Mukden Incident in 1931, the division have participated in the Defense of the Great Wall in 1933 (being the attacking force in the confrontation), to expand and secure the western flank of the newly-formed Manchukuo state.
With the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War 27 July 1937, the 6th Division was assigned to the Japanese China Garrison Army, and immediately started to act in the ongoing Battle of Beiping–Tianjin. 20 October 1937, the division was re-subordinated to 10th army and attacked the Chinese troops concentration at Hangzhou Bay. By December 1937, it shifted west to participate together with 18th division and 114th divisionin the Battle of Nanking and ultimately in Nanking Massacre.14 February 1938, the 6th division was subordinated to Central China Expeditionary Army and in May 1938 have started acting acting in Battle of Xuzhou. 15 May 1938, the 106th divsion was split from 6th division. Actions in Battle of Wuhan have started in June 1938, before being withdrawn to Japan. In 1940, the 47th infantry regiment was transferred to the 48th division, converting 6th division to the triangular division format.
In November 1942, the 6th division was reassigned to the 17th army at Bougainville Island in the Solomon Islands. Although initially used for the Guadalcanal Campaign, it was ordered by Imperial General Headquarters in 1943 to transfer to the southern part of the Bougainville Island. The division`s was the one defending Cape Torokina in Bougainville Campaign in November 1943. and was annihilated at Battle of Bougainville in 1945. In March 1944, trying to capture Allied Cape Torokina airfield, the division have suffered heavy losses (the infantry regiment had 1787 men remaining alive of 4923 men initially) and ceased to exist as an organized unit. The parts of division, now cornered at Buin district, have suffered heavily from the loss of supplies and food. Losses mounted after the Australians have started another offensive in November 1944. The surrender document was signed in September 1945 on the nearby Fauro Island.
Order of battle (1941)
- 13th Infantry Regiment (Kumamoto)
- 23rd Infantry Regiment (Miyakonojo, Miyazaki)
- 45th Infantry Regiment (Kagoshima)
- 6. Field artillery regiment
- 6. Cavalry regiment
- 6. Logistics regiment
- 6. Signals company
- 6. Ordnance workshop company
- 6. Sanitation company
- 6/1. Field hospital
- 6/2. Field hospital
- 6/4. Field hospital
- 6. Veterinary office
- 6. Engineer (bridging) battalion
Reference and further reading
- Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937–1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981
- This article incorporated material from the Japanese Wikipedia page 第6師団 (日本軍)