32nd Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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32nd Division
Active 1939–1945
Country Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Engagements Second Sino-Japanese War
Battle of Morotai

The Imperial Japanese Army's 32nd Division (第32師団 Dai-sanjuni Shidan?) was an infantry division during World War II. The division was raised in February 1939 and was stationed in China from May 1939. In April 1944 it was deployed to Halmahera in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) and surrendered to the US Army in August 1945.


The 32nd Division was activated at Tokyo in February 1939. Its main subunits were the 210th, 211th and 212th infantry regiments, the 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 32nd Engineer Regiment, 32nd Division Signal Unit, 32nd Transport Regiment and 32nd Medical Unit. The division also included the 32nd Infantry Group Tankette Company when it was formed, but this was later removed.[1]

The division left Japan in May 1939 to participate in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It arrived in southeast Shantung in June and saw action in Japanese operations there. The division later moved to Tsinan in north China where it remained until it departed for Mindanao in April 1944.[1]

The 32nd Division suffered heavy losses from United States Navy submarine attacks during its voyage from China in the Take Ichi convoy. On 26 April almost all the men one of the division's regiments were lost when their transport ship was sunk north west of Luzon. The convoy carrying the division put in at Manila between 29 April and 1 May where its destination was changed to Halmahera. The convoy carrying the division was attacked by US submarines near the northeastern tip of Celebes on 6 May. This and the previous attack reduced the division's strength to just five infantry battalions and one and a half artillery battalions. The surviving transports arrived at Halmahera on 9 May.[2]

The division saw action against the United States Army during the Battle of Morotai from September 1944 until the end of the war. Two battalions of the 211th Infantry Regiment were sent to Morotai, which was only a short distance from Halmahera, to develop an airfield in May 1944, but these were withdrawn in July when the airfield was abandoned due to drainage problems.[3] This left Morotai only lightly defended when a large Allied force landed there on 15 September, and the Allies were able to quickly secure their objectives in the island's south west.[4] Elements of the 32nd Division, including the 3rd Battalion of the 210th Infantry Regiment and the entire 211th Infantry Regiment, were transported to Morotai through a US Navy blockade between September and November in an attempt to attack the Allied base which was being developed on the island.[5] The division was not able to launch this attack, however, as sufficient supplies couldn't be brought through the US blockade. As a result, the Japanese troops on Morotai retreated to the center of the island where many died from disease and starvation.[6]

The 32nd Division continued to fight against the US forces on Morotai until the end of the war. In December 1944 the US 136th Infantry Regiment launched an offensive against the 211th Regiment's positions on Morotai. The US force assaulted the main Japanese positions on 3 January 1945, capturing them two days later. Following this the Americans pursued the remnants of the 211th Regiment until 14 January, but which time they claimed to have killed 870 Japanese soldiers and captured ten for a loss of 46 killed and 127 wounded and injured.[7] The US 93rd Infantry Division launched a further offensive against the Japanese on Morotai in April 1945 and captured the 211th Regiment's commander on 6 August.[8] Following the end of the war, the remnants of the 32nd Division on Morotai and Halmahera surrendered to the 93rd Infantry Division on 26 August 1945.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Madej (1981), p. 60
  2. ^ Willoughby (1966), p. 273
  3. ^ Willoughby (1966), pp. 348–349
  4. ^ Smith (1953), pp. 480–488.
  5. ^ Willoughby (1966), pp. 350
  6. ^ Willoughby (1966), pp. 350–352
  7. ^ 33rd Infantry Division Historical Committee (1948), pp. 68–102.
  8. ^ Lee (1966), pp. 525–527
  9. ^ Bulkley (2003), p. 442


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