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The 18th Division (第18師團 Dai-juhachi Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Chrysanthemum Division (菊兵團 Kikuhei-dan?).


The 18th Division was formed in Kurume, Kyūshū on 13 November 1907, together with the 17th Division, as part of the post Russo-Japanese War expansion of the standing Japanese military. In World War I it was strengthened by an additional infantry regiment (the 29th) and given an independent command in the siege of the German colony of Tsingtao in the Shandong peninsula, China. Abolished at the end of World War I, it was revived for participation in the Siberian Intervention.

However, in 1925, it was again dissolved as one of the four divisions cancelled by Minister of War Ugaki Kazushige as part of a cost-saving measure during the Kato Takaaki administration.

The 18th Division was resurrected in September 1937, and assigned to the 10th Army with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. It took part in the Battle of Shanghai. As part of the China Expeditionary Army, it participated in the Battle of Nanjing (and subsequent Nanjing Massacre), and various campaigns throughout China, cumulating in the Canton Operation of 1938. In 1941 the division was under the command of Lieutenant-General Renya Mutaguchi. It was reassigned to the 25th Army (which was under the command of General Yamashita Tomoyuki). It participated in the invasion of Malaya and Singapore. Afterwards, it was transferred to the Japanese Fifteenth Army and the Burma front, where it suffered over 3000 casualties from food poisoning and malaria. In 1942, the division's Kawaguchi Detachment, comprising the 35th Infantry Brigade and 124th Infantry Regiment, was detached and sent to Guadalcanal. There, it took heavy losses in the battles of Edson's Ridge and Henderson Field.

Late in 1943, Mutaguchi was promoted, and replaced in command of the division by Lieutenant-General Shinichi Tanaka. Transferred to the Japanese Thirty-Third Army, and operations in northern Burma, 18th Division fought against the American-led Chinese divisions advancing on Mogaung and Myitkyina, and against the British Chindits operating behind their lines. Although sufferering heavy losses, the division nevertheless inflicted many casualties and imposed severe delays on the Allies.

In the aftermath of the disastrous invasion of India in 1944, Lieutenant-General Tanaka exchanged appointments with Lieutenant-General Eitaro Naka, formerly Chief of Staff at Burma Area Army. In the 1945 campaigning season, the division once again lost many thousands of men in the Battle of Central Burma, particularly at the Battle of Meiktila south of Mandalay. It ended the war in southern Burma.

Of the 31,444 men sent to Burma, more than 20,000 did not make it home to Japan.


The original Order of Battle of the 18th Division included:

  • 55th Infantry Regiment (Omura)
  • 56th Infantry Regiment (Kurume)
  • 114th Infantry Regiment (Fukuoka)
  • 13th Rapid Response Battalion
  • 21st Heavy Field Artillery Battalion
  • 18th Mountain Artillery Regiment
  • 12th Construction Regiment
  • 12th Transport Regiment.

Reorganized as a square division in World War I, at the time of the Siege of Tsingtao, in 1914 it had a strength of 23,000 men. It was commanded by Lieutenant-General Mitsuomi Kamio, its 23rd Infantry Brigade by Major General Yamada and its 24th Infantry Brigade by Major General Horinehi. 18th Division

  • 23rd Infantry Brigade
    • 46th Infantry Regiment
    • 55th Infantry Regiment
  • 24th Infantry Brigade
    • 48th Infantry Regiment
    • 56th Infantry Regiment
  • 22nd Cavalry Regiment
  • 24th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 18th Engineer Battalion

It was reformed in 1937 as a square division for the Second Sino-Japanese War.

18th Division

  • 23rd Infantry Brigade
    • 55th Infantry Regiment
    • 56th Infantry Regiment
  • 35th Infantry Brigade
    • 114th Infantry Regiment
    • 124th Infantry Regiment
  • 18th Mountain Artillery Regiment
  • 22nd Cavalry Battalion
  • 12th Engineer Regiment
  • 12th Transport Regiment

See also

Reference and further reading

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