Tameichi Hara

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Tameichi Hara
Born October 16, 1900
Kagawa Prefecture, Japan
Died October 10, 1980(1980-10-10) (aged 79)
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Rank Captain
Unit Destroyer Amatsukaze
27th Destroyer Squadron
Cruiser Yahagi
Commands held  Imperial Japanese Navy
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of the Java Sea
Battle of Midway
Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Battle of Vella Gulf
Naval Battle of Vella Lavella
Battle off Horaniu
Battle of Empress Augusta Bay
Operation Ten-Go

Tameichi Hara (原 為一, Hara Tameichi, October 16, 1900 – October 10, 1980) was an Imperial Japanese naval commander during the Pacific War and the author of the IJN manual on torpedo attack techniques, notable for his skill in torpedo warfare and night fighting. Hara was the only IJN destroyer captain at the start of World War II to survive the entire war and his memoirs serve as an important source for historians.

Early life

Tameichi Hara was born on October 16, 1900 in a suburb of Takamatsu City on the island of Shikoku.[1] A native of Kagawa Prefecture and of samurai descent, Hara graduated with the 49th class from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at Etajima in 1921. In 1932 Hara was assigned as a surface warfare instructor and wrote a torpedo attack manual that was accepted as official doctrine. He began the war as the captain of destroyer Amatsukaze.

Military career

Amatsukaze (center bottom), under Hara's command, maneuvers at high speed to evade a high-level bomb attack by USAAF B-17 bombers on the disabled Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō (center right) during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

Hara commanded a Japanese destroyer or destroyer division in many significant Pacific sea battles. As captain of the Amatsukaze Commander Hara participated in the Battle of the Java Sea, the sinking of the submarine USS Perch and the occupation of Christmas Island.[2] He sank another submarine after detecting it at night when he saw a sailor on the surface light a cigarette four kilometers away.[3] On 13 November 1942 Hara’s Amatsukaze sank the USS Barton during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal but was severely damaged in turn after Hara left his searchlights on too long and drew intense fire from light cruiser USS Helena.[4] Hara, as told in his memoirs, was a Christian and refused to let his men mistreat American prisoners.

After Amatsukaze returned to Japan for repairs Hara was promoted to Captain and given the command of Destroyer Division 27, flying his flag aboard Shigure. While this was technically a four-ship formation the demands on the Imperial navy were such that Hara's ships rarely operated together. While serving aboard Shigure, Hara was involved in several fierce naval engagements during the latter part of the Solomon Islands Campaign. While on a re-supply mission through Blackett Straight on 2 August 1943, Hara noticed a fireball exploding near leading destroyer Amagiri and ordered Shigure's crew to shoot at the burning wreckage of Lt. John F. Kennedy's Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109.[5] During the Battle of Vella Gulf on 6–7 August Shigure was the only one of four Japanese destroyers to escape, though she was later found to have been hit by a torpedo that failed to explode.[6]

Although undamaged in the Bombing of Rabaul (November 1943), Shigure was ordered to back to Sasebo for a long overdue refit. Hara was relieved of his command and reassigned as Senior Torpedo Instructor at the Naval Torpedo School at Oppama near Yokosuka to teach students in the Imperial Japanese Navy's belated Motor Torpedo Boat program.[7] Hara was quickly frustrated with the lack of effective equipment as well as the lack of leadership in the Navy and Army. He hastily wrote a letter intended for Emperor Hirohito urging him to fire the heads of the army and navy and seek peace as the war was lost and hand delivered it to Hirohito's younger brother Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu at the Navy Ministry. Despite the potentially grave consequences of this action Hara did not hear anything further on the matter.[8]

Hara's last sortie was as captain of the light cruiser Yahagi as flagship of the destroyer screen accompanying Yamato on her fateful last mission as part of Operation Ten-Go. He ended the war at Kawatana training Japanese sailors to operate Shinyo suicide boats, where he witnessed first hand the effects of the second atomic bombing.

During the war Captain Hara participated in thirteen major actions:

List of Victories:[9]

  • USS Perch, US submarine damaged by Hara's destroyer Amatsukaze, and which was soon sunk by other Japanese destroyers. 2 March 1942, Java Sea.
  • USS Barton, US destroyer sunk by Amatsukaze in torpedo attack during the Battle of Guadalcanal, 12 November 1942.
  • USS Juneau, US light cruiser damaged by a torpedo from Amatsukaze, and sunk the next day by submarine I-26 as Juneau limped back to base. Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942.
  • USS Selfridge, US destroyer severely damaged and put out of action for six months by torpedoes fired by destroyers Shigure and Samidare under Hara's command. Battle of Vella LaVella, 6–7 October 1943.

Approximately 10 US, British, and Australian aircraft were shot down by the destroyer Shigure and light cruiser Yahagi while under Hara's command, though not all of these claims are verified by Allied sources.

Later life and memoirs

Postwar Hara commanded merchant ships which transported salt. Hara was the only IJN destroyer captain at the start of World War II who survived the war. This left him the sole surviving witness to several important meetings and conferences which he recounted in his memoirs. Hara's memoirs were translated into English and French and became an important reference for the Japanese perspective for historians writing about the Pacific Campaign of World War II. In his memoir, Hara objects to compulsory suicide as official doctrine, which he saw as a violation of bushido values. His personal doctrines demonstrate why he survived the war and the Japanese lost it —- they were inflexible, and he was not. His doctrines were "Never ever do the same thing twice" and "If he hits you high, then hit him low; if he hits you low, then hit him high," the latter was also a maxim of Douglas MacArthur's. Hara criticizes his superiors for using cavalry tactics to fight naval battles; never understanding the implications of air power; dividing their forces in the face of enemy forces of unknown strength; basing tactics on what they thought their enemy would do; failing to appreciate the speed with which the enemy could develop new weapons and accepting a war of attrition with a foe more capable of maintaining it.

Personal life

Hara had three children with his wife Chizu: two daughters Keiko and Yoko, and a son, Mikito, who was born shortly before the start of hostilities.


  1. ^ Hara, Taeichi (1967). Japanese Destroyer Captain. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-59114-354-3.
  2. ^ Hara, pp. 69-83
  3. ^ Hara, p.
  4. ^ Hara, pp. 140-144
  5. ^ Hara, p. 171
  6. ^ D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X.
  7. ^ Hara, p. 144
  8. ^ Hara, p. 251
  9. ^ Japanese Destroyer Captain, Captain Tameichi Hara, Ballatine Books, 1961.


External links

  • Recall Roster
  • CombinedFleet.com biography of Hara
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