Ahoy - Mac's Web Log
Mackenzie J Gregory

Join the Ahoy discussion group about naval and maritime history
Flag of Australia

Under Water Warfare The Struggle Against the Submarine Menace 1939 -1945
Japan and Myths about her Navy

Japan and Myths about her Navy
Prewar, many myths were propagated about Japanese Sailors, by both American and British observers, e g "The Japanese could not see in the dark." "The Japanese were not good Night Fighters."

These beliefs were laid to rest at "The Battle of Savo Island." on the 9th. of August. 1942, when I was sunk in H M A.S "Canberra".

Japanese lookouts visually sighted our Cruiser force of "Canberra," "Chicago," with Destroyer escorts "Patterson," and "Bagley," at a range of 12,500 yards, whilst the American Cruiser "Vincennes," was first sighted visually at 18,000 yards.

The U S Navy paid the price that fatetul night when their heavy Cruisers, "Astoria," "Quincy," and 'Vincernes," were all sunk with heavy loss of life.

The converse to these myths of not having good night vision, or being poor night fighters was, in fact, the truth. Night fighting training was assiduously applied, and special lookout training was given to Sailors with superior night vision. The I. J. N. developed night binoculars which allowed Lookouts to sight ships up to 20,000 yards away.

The Japanese writer, M. Ito, in "The End of The Imperial Japanese Navy," made these comments:- "Japan's skill in night actions, in which the Navy had such great pride and confidence, proved to be equally fruitless in the long run. The skill paid off at Savo Island, and other enemy battles in the Solomon Islands. At the time it was said that Americans built things well with their modern methods, but, that their Blue eyes were no match for our Dark eyes in night surface actions. But American technology and their effective surface Radar proved superior to any human eyes, and any difference in eye coloring proved immaterial."

Immediately after Savo, the Japanese Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, was withdrawing his force when, U S Submarine P44, captained by Lieutenant Commander J.R.Moore, sighted this fleet in St Georges' channel. He fired 4 Torpedoes at the Cruiser "Kako,"and she quickly sank. This was indeed a small price to pay for a stunning Japanese Naval victory.

However, Mikawa was subsequently strongly criticised for not pressing on to destroy the unloading U.S Transports anchored off Guadalcanal. He was, however, very much concerned about being attacked by Aircraft from Fletcher's Carriers, and did not know that Fletcher had already left the area even prior to Ghormley agreeing to his withdrawal of Carrier support.

This move by Fletcher left all the invasion forces naked to Japanese air attacks, forcing Turner to withdraw the supply Transports, and supporting Naval forces.

The Marines, just landed on Guadalcanal and adjacent islands were left stranded, inadequately supplied on a hostile shore.

next chapter

back to Under Water index

Back to weblog home

This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness.  All rights of publicity of the individuals named herein are expressly reserved, and, should be respected consistent with the reverence in which this memorial site was established.

Copyright© 1984/2014 Mackenzie J. Gregory All rights reserved