Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Ichiki Kiyonao (1892–1942)

Japanese army colonel whose unit was defeated on Guadalcanal. Born in Shizuoka, Japan, on 16 October 1892, Ichiki Kiyonao graduated from the Military Academy in 1916 and was commissioned in the infantry. In 1927, he took command of an infantry company. Between 1928 and 1931, Ichiki was a drill instructor at agricultural and trade schools. In 1935, he was appointed an instructor at the Army Infantry School and studied infantry tactics that might be applied in the event of war with the Soviet Union.

In May 1936, Ichiki took command of an infantry battalion in the 1st Regiment of the China Garrison Army. When a company of his battalion held an exercise near Beijing (Peking) on the night of 7 July 1937, it was fired on by the Chinese. The 1st Regiment's commander, Colonel Mutaguchi Renya, then ordered Ichiki to take his entire battalion to the spot and attack the Chinese. The resulting clash is known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. It was the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War.

Promoted to colonel in 1941, Ichiki took command of a regiment just before the beginning of the Pacific war. His regiment was to have been a garrison force on Midway Island, but when the Japanese navy lost the Battle of Midway, Ichiki's unit was sent to Guadalcanal in August 1942. In planning to attack U.S. Marine positions, Ichiki developed tactics that took little account of Marine dispositions, and his unit was annihilated in the 21 August 1942 Battle of the Tenaru River. Ichiki's men refused to surrender, and they and their commander were killed in the fighting. In the battle, Marine losses were 44 dead and 71 wounded, whereas the Japanese had at least 777 killed. Ichiki was posthumously promoted to major general.

Tobe Ryoichi


Further Reading
Frank, Richard B. Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle. New York: Penguin, 1990.
 

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