TOKYO 17 October 1945
Interrogation of: Commander SEKINO, H., IJN, 20 years in Navy. Communication Officer, Staff 6th Cruiser Squadron at CORAL SEA.
Commander OKUMIYA, Masatake, IJN, Staff, Second Flying Squadron. Both officers currently members of General Staff.
Interrogated by: Captain C. Shands, USN.
7 May 1942, a Japanese convoy proceeding through CORAL SEA to attack and occupy PORT MORESBY was turned back by a U.S. Carrier Force. Japanese Shoho (CV) was sunk by U.S. carrier planes. Shokaku was damaged and unable to reinforce CV Task Group at MIDWAY. Due to damage received in this battle, plans for occupation of PORT MORESBY by sea were abandoned, resulting in forcing Jap Army to attempt occupation over OWEN STANLEY Mountains from BUNA. Composition of Jap Task Force at CORAL SEA.
Ruyujo (CV) sunk in the Battle of EASTERN SOLOMONS, 23 August, by U.S. carrier planes, removing aur protection for convoy for reinforcement of Japanese Forces on GUADALCANAL. B-17 sank destroyer.
The Hyei and Haruna exchanged positions at MIDWAY the day before the main battle. Haruna, with carrier force, received no damage until 1945 at KURE by Navy dive-bombers.
Q. What was the mission of the Shoho's Task Force in the CORAL SEA Area, 7-8 May 1942?
A. To support the force that planned to capture PORT MORESBY. The Shoho's mission in the Japanese formation was exclusively to guard transports in the Occupation Force against submarines and air raids and not to deliver attack. The Shoho was in the Fourth Carrier Division.
Q. Why didn't that force continue to PORT MORESBY?
A. Because we couldn't completely destroy the American Task Force. Our carrier-based planes were of little use because of the shortage of fuel on board. Although most of your carriers were all sunk or badly damaged, the remaining surface craft were not damaged. We were not strong enough to try occupation. The main force of our fleet had just completed an operation in the INDIAN OCEAN at CEYLON and returned to JAPAN. Just a small group was left in the CORAL SEA Area.
Q. What ships were present in the CORAL SEA Battle?
MORESBY TASK FORCE DIRECT SUPPORT FORCE Shokaku (CV) Shoho (CVE) Zuikaku (CV) Aoba (CA) Myoko (CV) Kinugasa Haguro and about seven destroyers Kako (CA) MORESBY OCCUPATION FORCE Yubari, about 6 destroyers and 5 transports SEAPLANE TENDER GROUP Kokokawa-Mary Tenryu Tatsuta
On 7 May, the day when Shoho came under American attack, Japan's scout planes made wrong identification and directed the attack of the Shokaku and Zuikaku planes to American tankers instead of American carriers, thereby seriously up-setting the entire succeeding battle tactics of the Japanese Task Force. After dropping their bombs on the American tankers, the Zuikaku and Shoho planes were returning to their carriers when they saw the American Carrier Force. Unfortunately they didn't have any bombs to attack. Some planes mistook the American carriers and attempted to land on board. This was at night. It was then reported American Task Force about 30 miles south of Japanese Task Force.
Q. Why didn't you make a night attack?
A. I am not sure. There was some talk but we received orders to go north.
Q. Do you know how many hits were made on the Shoho?
A. I think about nine bombs and about four torpedoes. The first bombs broke the steering gear and she couldn't navigate.
Q. Were torpedo hits made with the first attack group?
A. No, only the second group made any hits. When the second wave attacked they made about 9 bomb and 4 torpedo hits.
Q. Did the Shoho sink as a result of the bombs and torpedoes?
A. About five minutes after the first hit was made she capsized. It was not necessary for destroyer to sink it.
Q. About how many personnel were lost?
A. About 500 lost out of 1200.
Q. Were the planes aboard the Shoho when it was hit?
A. No, very few. Most landed on other carriers, some landed on a small island in the LOUISIADE Group near a seaplane tender.
Q. Were those pilots recovered?
A. Yes, they were recovered by the seaplane tender.
Q. How many planes were lost?
A. About 21 planes.
Q. Was the Shokaku hit?
A. Hit by two bombs only. No torpedoes hit. Dropped too far away, easily dodged.
Q. Was the Zuikaku hit?
A. No, no damage received.
Q. How much time was required to repair the Shokaku?
A. Somewhere between one and a half to two months.
Q. Were any planes aboard the Shokaku when it was hit?
A. About a dozen. No damage. Only bow of flight deck damaged. Some damage to repair room in stern but some planes landed after bombs hit.
Q. What effect did the battle have on the current plan of attacking PORT MORESBY and on future plans?
A. The damage to the Shokaku prevented her from being used in the Battle of MIDWAY operation as was planned. The damage to the two carriers Shoho and Shokaku was a serious setback to the operations for the occupation of PORT MORESBY. Due to the delay of operations in that area and American occupation of GUADALCANAL, it was finally necessary to give up the plan for the occupation of PORT MORESBY by sea, forcing the Army to try to occupy by land from BUIN.
Q. Were any light cruisers damaged there, or large destroyers?
Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Q. In the Battle of the EASTERN SOLOMONS on the 23 August 1942, what was the position of the Ryujo?
A. It was near BRADLEY REEFS, lat. 7°S, 161°E. The Zuikaku and Shokaku were there too, but separated into different units about 90 or 100 miles to the north and east.
Q. Was the Ryujo sunk, and how?
A. Yes, very quickly on the 24th. She was hit by at least ten bombs and torpedoes. Bombs came from dive-bombers.
Q. Were any hits made by horizontal-bombers?
A. Not a single hit.
Q. Were other ships hit there?
A. No battleships or cruisers were hit. However, on the 25th in mid-morning a destroyer which was escorting transports to GUADALCANAL from RABAUL in a separate force north of GUADALCANAL was hit and sunk in the forenoon by B-17s. This was an old type destroyer which was standing by the Kikokawa-Maru. The transport had been attacked by dive-bombers from GUADALCANAL and was damaged. The escort was standing by. The escort saw the high bombers coming but did not worry and did not get underway. I talked to the Commanding Officer, Commander HATANO, afterward. He was surprised that he was hit, because this was the first ship known to have been hit by horizontal-bombers in the war. Commander HATANO was my classmate at ETAJIMA and said, "Even the B-17s could make a hit once in awhile."
Q. Were any ME-109s employed in the SOLOMON Area?
A. No. Only one Messerschmitt Fighter 109 was brought from GERMANY. It was used for test. It may be confused with carrier borne 2-seater reconnaissance bomber.
Confirmation of Previous Interrogations
Q. Did you have radar at CORAL SEA Battle?
A. Not on cruisers. Maybe carriers had it, but do not think so.
Q. What battleships were present with the First Air Fleet on the day of the Battle of MIDWAY?
A. Kirishima and Haruna. The Hiei started out with this fleet, but exchanged position with the Haruna just before the day of the battle. The Hiei joined the Main Body and the Haruna joined the carrier force.
Q. Has the Haruna been damaged?
A. It was damaged at KURE by dive-bombers this year. It has never been damaged before.
Q. What was the plan of action for the cruisers the night of June 4 at MIDWAY?
A. On the evening of 4 June, Japanese carrier group had been heavily damaged. The Seventh Cruiser Squadron was ordered at full speed to bombard the airfield at MIDWAY. On the way, appearance of submarines was reported, so they made emergency evasive turn resulting in collision between Mikuma and Mogami. The Mogami bow was most seriously damaged and was difficult to steer, but it followed the Mikuma for protection. Due to loss of speed and ability to steer, the next morning the Mogami was attacked and damaged by American dive-bomber planes. The Mikuma was sunk at the same time.
Q. Was the Mogami attacked also?
A. Yes, but received no great damage.
Q. Were any radars used at the Battle of MIDWAY?
A. Not sure. The battleships Ise and Hyuga had them about that time.
Q. In the night battle of SAVO ISLAND, did you have radar that night?
A. No, visual fire control was used on that night -- 8 August.
Q. In the Battle of SANTA CRUZ, 26 October 1942, how early did you have information of our carrier force?
A. Tone and Terutsuki were scouting from position approximately 167.5°E and 7°S. The patrol planes from the GILBERTS discovered American ships from HEBRIDES and sent word to Japanese cruisers by radio about 4 or 5 days before the battle. When these ships received word, they returned to Main Body north of the SOLOMONS.
Table of Contents