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Shoji Nishimura

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Shoji Nishimura (1889-1944) was a vice admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, who was killed in action, on his battleship flagship IJN Yamashiro, while commanding Japanese Force "C" at the Battle of Surigao Strait within the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Nishimura was regarded as an old "sea dog"; his only tour of shore duty was a partial stay at the Staff College in 1936-1938. Even there, he used a special rule to take the exams without staying for the full course.

Graduating 21st of his Naval Academy class of 148, he first specialized in navigation, then in torpedoes and convoying. Kiyohide Shima was among his classmates. He was given command of a destroyer at the age of 27. [1]

He called the Navy Ministry staff "armchair strategists" who did not understand the realities of war at sea.

Combat experience

In the December 1941 Japanese invasion of the Philippine island of Vigan, he commanded the Second Surprise Attack Force from the light cruiser IJN Naka. He succeeded in supporting the landings, although his flagship was damaged, and several transports and a minesweeper destroyed by U.S. aircraft. [2]

Next, in the Battle of the Java Sea, he commanded one of the Japanese attack forces in February 1942.

He commanded a force that bombarded the U.S.-held airfield on Guadalcanal on 13-14 November 1942. [3]

Surigao Strait

A number of reasons have been suggested for Nishimura not coordinating with Shima's smaller but significant Second Striking Force. Most analysts suggest that personal antipathy played a role; Shima was senior but had far less sea experience.

An alternate explanation, coming from interviews with VADM Takeo Kurita, is that the two forces were intended only as diversions, and were expected to be sacrificed. [4]

Assessment

According to Commander Shigeru Noshino, the only surviving ship commander in Force C, "[Nishimura] was an old destroyer man. I never met Nishimura personally, but it was said of him that he was clever and a capable Navy man. I will say this much, though, that there are some people who think Nishimura was very fortunate not to have returned from this battle. " [5]

Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, highly respected on both sides, said Nishimura was the only one of the four Japanese force commanders (including himself) to have put up a real fight. Rear Admiral Tomiji Koniyagi, chief of staff to Admiral Kurita, said Nishimur was a "sunshine and lively person with a smiling face. He was highly studious and a man of discretion and industry. He did not have any indulgences in particular. He seemed to enjoy his duties merrily and needed little or no assistance from his staff."[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Anthony P. Tully (2009), Battle of Surigao Strait, Indiana University Press, pp. 30-34
  2. Paul S. Dull (2007), A battle history of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945, U.S. Naval Institute, pp. 30-31
  3. The Tokyo Express, PT King
  4. Tully, pp. 43-44
  5. Interrogation of: Commander NISHINO, Shigeru, IJN; Commanding Officer of the Japanese destroyer SHIGURE in the Battle of SURIGAO STRAIT on 25 October 1944, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, 18 November 1945