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Jisaburo Ozawa

Jisaburō Ozawa
Japanese Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa
Native name 小澤 治三郎
Nickname "Gargoyle"
Born (1886-10-02)2 October 1886
Koyu District, Miyazaki, Japan
Died 9 November 1966(1966-11-09) (aged 80)[1]
Allegiance Japan Empire of Japan
Service/branch  Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1909-1945
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held Take, Shimakaze, Asakaze, Maya, Haruna
1st Fleet, 8th Cruiser Division, Southern Expeditionary Fleet, 1st Southern Expeditionary Fleet, 3rd Fleet, 1st Task Fleet, Naval General Staff, Combined Fleet[2]
Awards Order of the Sacred Treasure (2nd class)

Vice-Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa (小澤 治三郎 Ozawa Jisaburō?, 2 October 1886 – 9 November 1966) was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He was the last Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet.[3] Many military historians regard Ozawa as one of the most capable Japanese flag officers.[4]


Ozawa was born in rural Koyu County, Miyazaki prefecture on the island of Kyūshū, Japan.

Ozawa graduated from the 37th class Imperial Japanese Naval Academy on 19 November 1909, placing 45th in a class of 179 cadets. He performed his midshipman service on the cruisers Soya and Kasuga and battleship Mikasa, and was commissioned an ensign on 15 December 1910. He was promoted to sub-lieutenant on 1 December 1912 and to lieutenant on 13 December 1915.

As an ensign, Ozawa served on the destroyer Arare, battleship Hiei and cruiser Chitose, and as a lieutenant, on Kawachi and Hinoki. He specialized in torpedo warfare in his studies; after his graduation from the Naval War College (Japan) in 1919 and promotion to lieutenant commander on 1 December 1921, he was given his first command, the destroyer Take. He subsequently commanded Shimakaze[2] and Asakaze. He served as chief torpedo officer on Kongō in 1925, and was promoted to commander on 1 December of the following year.

Ozawa served in various staff positions from 1925–1933, except for a one year period in 1930 when he was assigned to visit the United States and Europe. He was promoted to captain on 1 December 1930, and on 15 November 1934, he was assigned command of the Maya and Haruna the following year.

On 1 December 1936, Ozawa was promoted to rear admiral.[2] He continued to serve in various staff positions, including Chief of Staff of the Combined Fleet in 1937 and Commandant of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy. He was promoted to vice admiral on 15 November 1940.

Ozawa was one of leading advocates of naval aviation in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Ozawa was the first high-ranking officer to recommend that the Japanese aircraft carrier forces be organized into an air fleet so that they could train and fight together.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ozawa became responsible for Japan's naval operations in the South China Sea as Commander in Chief of the Southern Expeditionary Fleet covering the invasion of Malaya. In early 1942 (January to March), his fleet was involved in the invasions of Java and Sumatra.[5]

In March–April 1942 he commanded the highly successful commerce raiding detachment during the foray into the Indian Ocean.[5]

On 11 November 1942, Ozawa was appointed Commander in Chief of the IJN 3rd Fleet,[2] relieving Admiral Chūichi Nagumo as commander of Japan's carrier forces. Ozawa proved an aggressive and skilled commander, but was overwhelmed by the numerical and technological superiority of the United States at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After the battle, Ozawa retreated to Okinawa where he tendered his resignation — which was not accepted.

What was left of Ozawa's fleet fought on at the Battle of Leyte Gulf[5] against the forces of Admiral William Halsey. Although he was the senior admiral at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Ozawa was not given a leading command position since the Japanese battle plan was to sacrifice his force as a decoy so Admiral Takeo Kurita's Center Force could traverse San Bernardino Strait and freely fall upon MacArthur's invasion forces on the Leyte beaches. Nevertheless, Ozawa played his role intelligently and professionally until the end, although his fleet ended its combat career off of the Philippines as little more than a bait force, flight decks empty for lack of planes and pilots.

On 29 May 1945, he accepted a position on the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff,[2] and was the final CINC of the Imperial Japanese Navy until the end of the war in September 1945.[5] He refused a promotion to full admiral, and remained as vice admiral until the final dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Ozawa, nicknamed 'The Gargoyle' (Onigawara) by his men, was extremely tall (6'7" or 2 m; taller than the average Japanese man) and was commonly regarded as one of the three ugliest admirals in the Navy. He also had a reputation of being both courageous and compassionate towards his men.[3]

Ozawa died in 1966 at the age of 80.




External links

  • The Battle Off Samar – Taffy III at Leyte Gulf website by Robert Jon Cox

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