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17th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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Country  Empire of Japan
Type  Infantry
Nickname(s)  Moon Division
Branch  Imperial Japanese Army
Garrison/HQ  Okayama, Japan
17th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
Active  13 November 1907 – 1 May 1925 4 April 1938 - 1945

The 17th Division (第17師団, Dai-jūnana Shidan) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Moon Division (月兵団, Getsu-heidan). The 17th Division was one of two infantry divisions newly raised by the Imperial Japanese Army immediately after the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). The division received its colors on 13 November 1907. Its original headquarters was in a suburb of the city of Okayama, and its troops were recruited primarily from communities in the three prefectures of Okayama, Hirohima, and Shimane. The first commander of the division was Lieutenant General Ichinohe Hyoe.


On 4 March 1908, the headquarters of the 17th division was transferred to rural Mitsu District, Okayama (now part of the city of Okayama). On 18 March 1915, the headquarters of the division moved to a more central location in Okayama city. However, on 26 March 1915 it was ordered to Liaoyang in Manchuria as a garrison force, before returning to Okayama 10 May 1917.

However, on 1 May 1925, it was dissolved by Minister of War Ugaki Kazushige as part of a cost-saving measure during the Kato Takaaki administration, together with the 13th, 15th and 18th divisions.

The 17th Division was resurrected 4 April 1938 as a triangular division as part of the general military buildup after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Initially the 17th division was used to replace a transferred 10th division within the China Expeditionary Army, and participated in the Battle of Wuhan. The elements of the division were recalled to Japan in July 1940. The rest were garrisoning Xuzhou area until been relieved by 65th division.

With the Pacific War, the 17th Division was assigned to the Southern Expeditionary Army Group in September 1943, and was transferred to New Britain in the Solomon Islands under command of the 8th Area Army headquartered in Rabaul. First echelon of 17th division has sailed from Shanghai 20 September 1943, and arrived to Rabaul 5 October 1943. Second echelon has sailed the same route from 21 October 1943 until 4 November 1943. A separate small convoy sailing from Shanghai on 20 October was ambushed by US submarine USS Grayback on 22 October 1943, and 1087 men of 17th division died when auxiliary cruiser Awata Maru was sunk. The remains of convoy arrived in Rabaul on 12 November 1943.

Approximately one-third of 17th division forces (the HQ staff and IJA 81st Infantry Regiment) were stationed on neighboring Bougainville Island, where they were transformed into the 38th independent mixed brigade in July 1944. The remainder of the division, under the command of Lieutenant General Iwao Matsuda fought at the Battle of Cape Gloucester and the Battle of New Britain, incorporating 51st reconnaissance regiment in the process. At the end of battle the division was reduced to the couple of the independent mixed regiments guarding a hospital areas. The 17th division survivors surrendered on New Britain to Allied forces with the surrender of Japan 15 August 1945.


17th Division (Imperial Japanese Army) Wikipedia

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