Lieutenant General Hatazo Adachi commanded the Japanese forces on New Guinea from November 1942 until the end of the Second World War. He took command of the Eighteenth Army after the death of Lieutenant General Tomitaro Horii on 23 November 1942, and inherited an army that was already in retreat. The Allies were using their air and sea power to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul, while Japanese troops were retreating along the Kokoda Trail to Buna.
Unlike his less fortunate colleagues isolated in small island garrisons, Adachi was able to conduct a long fighting retreat. In January 1943 he evacuated Buna, and pulled back to Sio on the Huon Peninsula, remaining there for the next year. Early in 1944 General MacArthur forced him to evacuate Sio and the Huon Peninsula. 14,000 men were evacuated from the peninsula, some using coastal barges and other by long forced marches.
The Eighteenth Army was eventually forced back to Wewak, on the north coast of New Guinea, where it remained trapped until the end of the war. Adachi made two major attempts to break out. The most serious of these attempts saw 31,000 men attempt to break out at Aitape (July-August 1944), but the failure of this attempt convinced Adachi that any further breakout attempts were futile, especially as the Japanese front line was forced further and further away from his position.
Adachi and the Eighteenth Army finally surrendered on 13 September 1945. By this time only 13,500 of his original force of 65,000 men were still alive, having suffered terribly during the long siege of Wewak. In 1947 Adachi was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes, and committed suicide.
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