Nishimura Shoji (1889-1944)

Every army or navy has officers who attain high rank in spite of being nonentities.  Nishimura Shoji, a rear admiral at the start of the Pacific War, was described by historian Samuel Eliot Morison as “one of the least competent Japanese flag officers.”  Historian Paul Dull is kinder, defending Nishimura’s rush to sea in pursuit of nonexistent submarines at the Battle of Balikpapan, which left a Japanese transport force at the mercy of an American destroyer force, as a reasonable decision based on what Nishimura knew at the time.  For one thing, as John Prados pointed out, the Dutch submarine K-17 had in fact torpedoed the Tsuruga Maru earlier in the day.  But even Dull cannot hide the utter lack of imagination in Nishimura’s robot-like march into oblivion at Surigao Strait, though Prados suggests that Nishimura, who had just lost his only son in a seaplane accident, was operating under a death wish. Roscoe (1953) suggests that Nishimura raced to his doom to avoid coming under the command of Shima Kyohide, who was commanding a smaller force but was senior by a few months.

Nishimura had considerable experience in destroyers prior to being promoted to rear admiral in in November 1940. He commanded Destroyer Squadron 4 when war broke out, which was at Magong preparing to sail with 2 Surprise Attack Force to seize Vigan, Luzon. In addition to the actions mentioned previously, he was present at the Battle of the Java Sea, the Midway operation, and the carrier battles of the Guadalcanal campaign.

Service record

  born in Akita prefecture
1911-7-18 Midshipman    
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 21st in a class of 148. Assigned to CA Aso
1912-3-29   BB Mikasa
1912-12-1 Ensign CA Aso
1913-12-1   Hiei
1914-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade     
Gunnery School Basic Course
1915-5-26   Torpedo School Basic Course
1915-12-13   DD Yugiri
1916-8-20   CA Yakumo
1917-10-10   Haruna
1917-12-1 Lieutenant Naval College B-Course
1918-4-15   Naval College Majored Course
1918-8-15   Naval College Navigation Course
1918-12-1   AP Seito
1919-7-20   DD Kawakaze
1919-9-1   DD Tanikaze
1919-12-1   DE Yamato
1920-12-1   Kitakami
1921-12-1   BB Hizen
1922-4-8   Yura
1923-5-15   AO Sunosaki
1923-11-20   Oi
1924-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
CA Nisshin
1925-12-1   Instructor, Engineering Academy
1926-10-25   CA Nisshin
1926-11-1   Commander, DD Kiku
1927-11-1   Commander, DD-2
1928-8-1   Commander, Wakatake
1928-12-10   Commander, Urakaze
1929-11-1   Commander, Mikazuki
1929-11-30 Commander  
1930-11-15   Commander, Shirakumo
1931-11-2   Commander, Destroyer Division 26
1934-11-15 Captain Commander, Destroyer Division 19
1936-12-5   Naval College Expert Course
1937-10-31   Commander, Kumano
1939-5-18   Commander, Haruna
1940-11-1   Commander, Destroyer Squadron 4
1940-11-15 Rear admiral
1942-6-20   Staff, Combined Fleet
1942-6-25   Commander, Cruiser Division 7
1943-11-1 Vice admiral
1944-3-25   Navy General Staff
1944-9-10   Commander, Battleship Division 2
1944-10-25   Killed in action


Dull (1978)

Dupuy et al. (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Materials of IJN (accesssed 2008-2-18)

Morison (1948)

Roscoe (1953)

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