Hyakutake, Lieutenant General Haruyoshi, 1888-1947

Hyakutake was the Commander of the Japanese Seventeenth Army which fought in Guadalcanal in 1942. In early August 1942 it became clear that the US troops on Guadalcanal were planning on staying on the island and Hyakutake was given orders to recapture the island. He had some 50,000 men under his command but they were scattered in the Solomons, Philippines, New Guinea, Manchuria, Guam and Java so he decided to send the 2nd Division under General Ichiki. Ichiki launched an attack on the airstrip on Guadalcanal, Henderson Field, but lost most of his 900 men on 21 August. Hyakutake decided to send a stronger force, about 4000 men, under General Kawaguchi, but again they were massacred at the Battle of Bloody Ridge on 12-13 September 1942. Hyakutake put off plans to take Port Moresby and decided to take over operations on Guadalcanal himself. He had 30,000 men landed on the island and on 23 October launched a complicated operation which again failed. His troops did not attack as planned and their communications were bad. He continued to plan the destruction of Henderson Field but after the Navy failed to knock it out in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (1213 November) his troops’ morale slumped. His men were disease-ridden and starving but continued to fight the Americans despite the lack of air support. On 31 December 1942 the Japanese High Command decided to order Hyakutake to withdraw but he only learned of this two weeks later. His men were withdrawn in secret over the next week.

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