Abe Hiroaki (1889-1949)

Photograph of Admiral Abe Hiroaki

Wikimedia Commons

Abe Hiroaki was born in Aichi prefecture and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1911. He was also a graduate of the Naval Staff College (1925) and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the period 1925-1938.

Promoted to rear admiral in 1938, Hiroaki began the war as commander of Cruiser Division 8, which accompanied the Pearl Harbor attack force. As second ranking officer in the force, he commanded the detachment that covered the second Wake invasion attempt. He also briefly relieved Nagumo as commander of the Japanese carrier forces following the debacle at Midway. Abe continued to command cruisers and battleships during the major carrier battles of the Guadalcanal campaign, serving as commander of Combat Division 11, which was composed of Battleship Division 3 and Cruiser Division 8.

Abe led the Japanese bombardment force during the first Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the Hiei was crippled by Callaghan's cruiser force and further battered by aircraft from Henderson Field the next day. Abe himself was wounded in the battle. Subordinate commanders claimed that Abe send a large volume of contradictory orders during the battle. An Imperial Navy Court of Inquiry concluded that Abe erred in not reversing course long enough to reload with armor-piercing shells, and he was forced to retire from the Navy in early 1943. Yamamoto was reportedly furious at Abe for scuttling the battleship rather than letting it act as a diversion from an approaching Japanese transport force.

Hiroaki has been described as a good follower but poor independent commander, lacking in determination and imagination.

Service record

1911-7-18 Midshipman     
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 26th in a class of 148. Assigned to CA Soya
1912-3-29   BB Mikasa
1912-12-1 Ensign CA Nisshin
1913-12-1   CA Chikuma
1914-5-27   Kongo
1914-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade     
Torpedo School Basic Course
1915-5-26   Gunnery School Basic Course
1915-12-13   DD Akebono
1916-8-21   CA Chitose
1917-12-1 Lieutenant
Naval College B Course
1918-4-15   Torpedo School Advanced Course
1918-12-1   Torpedo School Expert Course
1918-12-13   AR Kanto
1919-2-1   DD Sugi
1919-9-8   Staff, 3 Fleet
1920-12-1   Adjutant, 3 Fleet
1921-11-10   DD Yamakaze
1922-7-20   Commander, DD Ushio
1922-12-1   Commander, DD Hatsuyuki
1923-5-10   Tama
1923-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
Navy College A Course
1925-12-1   Commander, Kaki
1926-12-1   Instructor, Torpedo School / Instructor, Gunnery School
1927-12-16   Instructor, Torpedo School / Instructor, Gunnery School / Instructor, Military Heavy Artillery School
1928-4-1   Instructor, Torpedo School / Instructor, Gunnery School / Instructor, Military Heavy Artillery School / Instructor, Submarine School
1928-12-10 Commander  
1929-11.30   Staff, Destroyer Squadron 2
1931-10.31   Commander, Destroyer Division 1
1932-5-16   2 Naval District
1932-11-15   Commander, Destroyer Division 2
1932-12-1 Captain  
1933-11-15   Commander, Destroyer Division 23
1934-11-15   Instructor, Naval College
1936-12-1   Commander, Jintsu
1937-12-1   Commander, Fuso
1938-4-6   Commander, 14 Air Group
1938-11-15 Rear admiral
1938-12-15   Chief Instructor, Naval Academy / Chief Trainer, Naval Academy
1940-11-1   Staff, 4 Fleet
1940-11-15   Commander, Destroyer Squadron 6
1941-8-1   Commander, Cruiser Division 8
1942-7-14   Commander, Combat Division 11
1942-11-1 Vice admiral
1942-12-20   Navy General Staff
1943-3-15   Awaiting assignment
1943-7-12   Job assistant, Naval College
1949-2-6   Dies


Dupuy (1992)

Fuller (1992)

Hornfischer (2011)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2007-12-20)

Prange (1982)

Spector (1985)

Tully (1997; accessed 2013-10-16)
Tuohy (2007)

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